Final set for USPA National Twenty Goal Championship
By Alex Webbe
Friday wins by Flight Options (Melissa Ganzi, Kris Kampsen, Nic Roldan and Juan Bollini) and Team USPA (Jared Sheldon, Patrick Uretz, Felipe Viana, Jeff Blake and Jesse Bray) at the Grand Champions Polo Club set up the final for the 2014 USPA National Twenty-Goal Championship.
Flight Options had to spot Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Julio Gracida, Piki Alberdi and Roberto Gonzalez) three goals in a late morning contest before cruising to a comfortable 12-8 victory, with American 8-goaler Nic Roldan scoring seven times for the win.
Casablanca took the field with a 3-0 lead (by handicap), but Flight Options wasted no time in making it up. A 40-yard penalty goal by Roldan was followed by a goal from teammate Melissa Ganzi, 3-2. Roldan and Melissa Ganzi added single goals to close out the chukker on top of a 4-3 score.
Julio Gracida tied it up for Casablanca with his first goal of the day on a penalty conversion, but Roldan went on a three goal tear (one on a penalty shot) to close out the chukker with Flight Options in control of a 7-4 game.
Proving that he was far from through, Roldan took the opening throw in of the third chukker to blast a 130-yard shot through the Casablanca goalposts, 8-4, less than a minute into the period. Grant Ganzi answered with a goal for Casablanca at the 5:12 mark, 8-5. But showing flashes of the talented player that he is, Roldan took control of the ball deep in his own end of the field and carried it the length of the field for his seventh goal of the game and a 9-5 Flight Options lead. Kris Kampsen scored his first goal of the day with two minutes left in the chukker, 10-5. Argentine 7-goaler Juan Jose Brane scored the final goal of the game with less than 30 seconds on the clock, but it was Flight Options that would be taking a 10-6 lead into the second half.
Casablanca’s Roberto Gonzalez took the opening throw-in of the fourth period and raced 150 yards down the field for the first goal of the second half and cutting the Flight Options lead to a manageable three goals, 10-7. Kampsen scored from the field to take back the four goal advantage, 11-7 for the final goal of the chukker.
Both defenses stiffened in the fifth chukker. Kampsen’s 80-yard goal from the field in the opening minute was the only score of the period. Flight Options led by five goals, 12-7, with one chukker left in regulation time.
Casablanca stormed the Flight Options goal in the final chukker of the game, but the Flight Options team held firm, turning aside attack after attack. With less than a minute left to play, Julio Gracida broke loose and raced down the field for the final goal of the game in a 12-8 Flight Options victory.
Roldan led all scoring with seven goals. Kampsen added three goals and Melissa Ganzi scored twice. Casablanca got two goals from Julio Gracida and single goals from Grant Ganzi, Gonzalez and Brane.
The win boosts Flight Options into Sunday’s 3PM tournament final.
Team USPA 11, Audi 7
Under the guidance of American 6-goaler Jeff Blake, Team USPA broke open a tight game and rode on to record an impressive 11-7 win over the defending championship Audi team (Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Julio Arellano and Mason Wroe).
Felipe Viana jump-started the game with the opening goal of the first chukker for the 1-0 edge. Jesse Bray added a penalty goal and Patrick Uretz added a goal from the field for a 3-0 lead. Mason Wroe kept Audi from getting shutout in the opening chukker with a single goal, 3-1.
Marc Ganzi opened the scoring in the second chukker with a 30-yard penalty conversion, 3-2. Carlitos Gracida tied it with his first goal of the game, 3-3. Bray’s second goal of the day had Team USPA back in the lead, 4-3. Marc Ganzi and Patrick Uretz exchanged goals to close the period with Tem USPA defending a narrow one goal 5-4 lead.
Goals were less plentiful in the third chukker with Carlitos Gracida and Viana accounting for the only goals of the chukker. At the end of the first half, Team USPA maintained the lead, 6-5.
Jared Sheldon replaced Patrick Uretz for the second half, but there was no letup by the young lineup. Viana’s third goal of the game (penalty conversion) was followed by a goal from the field from Bray. Audi was unable to score and fell behind 8-5.
The Audi defense took control of the fifth chukker, shutting down the Team USPA attack for the first time all day. Unfortunately the Audi offense was unable to take full advantage of it. A single goal from Marc Ganzi was all they could muster. Audi cut the lead to two goals, 8-6, with once chukker left to play.
Sixth chukker action saw Viana score for the fourth time as Team USPA extended their lead to three goals, 9-6. California 3-goaler Jared Sheldon demonstrated his ability to carry the ball and score as he added two more goals to the Team USPA total, 11-6. Julio Arellano scored the final goal of the game for Audi but it was Team USPA with the win and a berth in Sunday’s final of the 2014 USPA National Twenty Goal Championship.
Viana scored four times for Team USPA. Bray added three goals and Sheldon and Uretz each scored twice in the win. Marc Ganzi’s four goals (once on a penalty conversion) led the Audi attack. Gracida, Arellano and Wroe each scored single goals in a losing effort.