By Alex Webbe
Aspen Valley Polo Club (Grant Ganzi, Juan Bollini, Jr., Wes Finlayson and Guille Aguero) won the opening tournament of the fall season at the Grand Champions Polo club in round-robin competition Sunday afternoon in front of an enthusiastic crowd of polo fans that welcomed the mallet set back to Wellington.
Aspen Valley unloaded on Newport (Gene Goldstein, Brandon Phillips, Kris Kampsen and Leo Mandelbaum) in opening chukker play for a two goal lead. Grant Ganzi scored the first goal of the game countered by a goal from Kris Kampsen, 1-1. Consecutive goals from Juancito Bollini and Wes Finlayson made it 3-1, Aspen Valley.
Four second chukker goals from Aspen Valley went unanswered as Newport fell behind by six goals. Two more goals from Grant Ganzi and single goals from Juancito Bollini and Wes Finlayson (penalty conversion) had Aspen Valley on top of a 7-1 score.
Gene Goldstein scored two goals for Newport in the third with teammate Brandon Phillips adding a goal, but it was a case of too little too late. Single goals from Grant Ganzi and Juancito Bollini hade Aspen Valley celebrating the 9-4 win in the opening three chukkers of the tournament’s round-robin.
AUDI 5, NEWPORT 3
Newport held the field for the next three chukkers as they faced a hard-hitting Audi team (Melissa Ganzi, Marc Ganzi, Roberto Gonzalez and Juan Bollini).
Gene Goldstein scored the first goal of the game but Audi countered with a pair of goals from the field from Marc Ganzi. At the end of the first chukker it was Audi, 2-1.
Defenses tightened on both sides in second period action. Audi’s Roberto Gonzalez scored the only goal of the chukker as Audi increased their lead to two goals, 3-1.
Third chukker goals from Gonzalez and Marc Ganzi had Audi on the winning end of a 5-1 score when Newport fought back. Kris Kampsen scored twice for Newport to cut the Audi lead a=back to two goals, 5-3, but that was where the rally stalled. Audi held on for the 5-3 victory and would face Aspen Valley to determine the tournament winner.
ASPEN VALLEY 4, AUDI 4
Both Aspen Valley and Audi had registered wins over Newport and held identical 1-0 records. Aspen Valley had scored a total of nine goals while Aspen scored five times in their win. A win by Audi would give them the tournament. A loss would give the tournament to Aspen Valley, and a tie would eliminate Audi by virtue of gross goals scored.
Aspen Valley took the early lead on a pair of goals from Wes Finlayson (one on a 60-yard penalty conversion). Melissa Ganzi got Audi on the scoreboard with a penalty goal. At the end of the first chukker Aspen Valley held a fragile 2-1 advantage.
Audi’s Marc Ganzi tied it at 2-2 in the second period, but Juancito Bollini responded with a goal as Aspen Valley ended the second chukker guarding the narrow 3-2 lead.
Grant Ganzi converted a 30-yard penalty shot in the third that extended the Aspen Valley lead to two goals, 4-2, but Audi wasn’t giving up. Roberto Gonzalez responded with a goal from the field, and Marc Ganzi scored on a penalty goal, 4-4, and that’s where it ended. On the strength of total gross goals, 15-9, Aspen Valley Polo Club was declared the winner.
The Tackeria Invitational is the beginning of a nine week long season that includes the US Trust Cup, the USPA Kay Colee Memorial Cup, the USPA Fall Classic, the USPA Fall Plates, the Pedro Morrison Memorial as well as a pair of 20-goal tournaments in the USPA North American Cup and the USPA National 20-Goal.
The season will be capped with the 2014 International Cup in which a select US side will compete in international high-goal competition.