Jeff Hall. Photo: David Lominska.
Wellington, Fla., – Jan. 19, 2017 – In two upset victories Wednesday, La Indiana defeated Tonkawa 10-6 and Mt. Brilliant took an 11-10 win over Grand Champions Polo Club/Casablanca in the Joe Barry Memorial semifinals at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC).
In what was expected to be a high-scoring affair—with Tonkawa having averaged 14.3 goals per game and La Indiana 11.3—things didn’t turn out that way. It was a very close, tightly played game with few scoring chances early on. The last time these teams competed against each other in bracket play, Tonkawa took an early 6-0 lead. But this time they made only a combined four shots in the first chukker, with La Indiana converting one for the sole field goal.
Although both teams had two penalty shots at goal, La Indiana was unable to capitalize, missing both opportunities, while Sapo Caset converted one of two penalty shots to tie the game at 1 after the first. The next two chukkers brought more of the same, with neither side able to break away and create scoring chances. Each team had two field goals and were one of three from the penalty, resulting in a 3-all score at the half.
The game changed in a pivotal fifth chukker, with La Indiana generating quick offense and putting Tonkawa on the defensive. Caset kept Tonkawa in the game, converting two more shots from the penalty line. Meanwhile, La Indiana began controlling play, converting three goals from the field on four shots, with two goals late in the fifth by Jeff Hall to tie the game at 6.
La Indiana dominated the last chukker, not allowing Tonkawa a shot at goal or a penalty shot. La Indiana put four shots on goal, converting all four chances. Each of La Indiana’s players scored once in the final chukker to secure the upset victory over top-ranked Tonkawa.
Ever since dropping their first game of the tournament, the Mt. Brilliant team has been very strong behind a balanced attack from all four players to reach the semifinals against an undefeated Grand Champions Polo Club team. The game started off with a series of goals, with a quick goal by Bo Goodman holding off 8-goaler Nic Roldan to finish the play. That started the momentum for Mt. Brilliant. Yet Grand Champions answered right back with goals from Inaki Laprida and two from Roldan to even the score at 3-all after the first chukker.
While it has been Jason Crowder leading his team—and the tournament—with 27 goals coming into the game, Santiago Chavanne had an exceptionally strong game. He finished off two long runs for goal to keep the pressure on Grand Champions. Neither team had more than a one-goal lead throughout the first half and the game was tied after each chukker. Roldan hit a stunning cut shot at speed to tie the game at 4 at the end of the second chukker and came through again in similar fashion to make it 6-all at the half.
Only receiving one penalty shot all day, Mt. Brilliant relied on their team offense and defense with Julian Daniels playing strong at back, knowing when to push forward for a pass from Chavanne or Crowder. Two goals in the fourth chukker, followed by two more in the fifth, gave Mt. Brilliant a two-goal lead heading into the final chukker. Grand Champions had their opportunities throughout the game, but Roldan could convert just two of five penalty attempts in the second half. An early goal for Chavanne in the sixth (his seventh goal of the day), gave Mt. Brilliant a three-goal lead. Grand Champions made a late push with a great goal from Juancito Bollini and Roldan’s seventh goal of the game, getting within one goal, but Mt. Brilliant held on and took the win.
The final takes place Sunday at 3 p.m. on Engel & Völkers Field at the IPC stadium.
All games in the Joe Barry Memorial are being live-streamed on the USPA Polo Network: uspolo.org.
Report, stats and graphics provided by International Polo Club Palm Beach.