Jillian Tietje, Dalton Woodfin, Julia Smith, Liam Palacios
All photos by Elizabeth Hedley
Scottsdale, Ariz. – Jan. 16, 2017 – Intercollegiate players had the rare opportunity to represent their college and their country in the 2017 International Intercollegiate Challenge Cup held at the WestWorld Equidome in Scottsdale, Arizona, during the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction. The United States Polo Association® (USPA) and Schools & Universities Polo Association (SUPA), the British equivalent of the USPA Intercollegiate/Interscholastic program, played in the first International Intercollegiate Challenge Cup in 2013. The United Kingdom and the United States alternate hosting this annual tournament. Both teams had each won the cup twice prior to this year’s match. The pressure was on for members of the USA team, Liam Palacios (senior at Cornell University), Team USPA member Julia Smith (5th year senior at University of Virginia), Dalton Woodfin (senior at Texas A&M University) and Jillian Tietje (sophomore at California Polytechnic State University). The U.K. team was comprised of Tobias Small, Samuel Boreham, Minnie Kerr-Dineen and Robin Omerod.
USA’s Julia Smith keeps her eye on the ball as she moves towards goal.
The U.K’s Omerod got off to a fast start scoring two consecutive goals in the first two minutes of play. The U.K. kept the lead throughout the chukker and the period ended with a score of 6-3. Woodfin retaliated in the second with three goals for USA to tie the game 6-all. From that point on, the teams would remain neck and neck. The U.K. and the USA remained tied until Palacios scored with ten seconds remaining before the half to pull the USA ahead by one, 9-8.
With the U.K. trailing by one at the beginning of second half, Omerod immediately scored to tie the game yet again. The U.K. brought their best defensive game into the arena while shooting with accuracy and precision. They came out on top at the end of the chukker 11-10.
Most Valuable Player Robin Ormerod of the U.K. with a nearside dribble at full speed.
The International Intercollegiate Challenge Cup was anybody’s game going into the final chukker. Woodfin tied the game 12-all halfway through and quickly scored again out of the line up to put USA on top. These young college players could have allowed the frantic nature of a close game to rattle them, but like professionals they remained level headed and consistent. Just over a minute remaining, the USA pulled ahead by one, then scored again with just 20 seconds left to win the game 15-13.
The Most Valuable Player was awarded to well-deserving Robin Omerod. USA’s Dalton Woodfin received the Sportsmanship Award and Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Hurricane owned by George Dill. Charles Smith, Chairman of USPA Polo Development, LLC remarked that the horsemanship he witnessed in this game was impressive and commendable.
Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Hurricane owned by George Dill, pictured with USA’s Dalton Woodfin and U.K.’s Tobias Woodfin.