Wellington Fla. – Feb. 3, 2018 – It was anyone’s game until the sixth chukker when Patagones broke open an evenly-balanced contest to capture the Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal final Friday at Patagones Polo Club. Patagones (Santiago Avendano, 1, Lorenzo Merlotti, 1, Benjamin Avendano, 2, Robi Bilbao, 4) avenged its early season loss to Altair (Ashley Busch, 0, Kristos Magrini, 1, Henry Porter, 2, Brandon Phillips, 5) with a 10-8 victory.
Last year Patagones won the Aspen Valley Cup 8-goal handicap title with a 15-11 victory over Odosan and Seacap won the 8-goal final with a 13-11 win over Hawk Hill.
Patagones finished with a 3-1 record and Altair finished 2-2. Both teams will compete in the February League Top Pony 8-Goal when the eight-team league play begins Thursday with Altair playing Horseware at 3 p.m.
Patagones will try to win its second consecutive January League title Saturday afternoon at Grand Champions Polo Club when it meets Palm Beach Equine in the final of the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series at 3 p.m.
Benjamin Avendano, 19, a sophomore at Lynn University, was selected Most Valuable Player. JM Lisa, ridden by Bailbao in the second chukker, was Best Playing Pony.
“They played really well, we got lucky when they missed a few goals in the last chukker,” said Avendano, who started playing polo at age 8 with his brothers and played well above his 2-goal handicap during the tournament.
“It’s nice to open the season with a win,” Avendano said. “We just came up with the clutch goals, started hitting our penalties and played a different style than we were playing before. We were missing penalties in our other games. This helps the team confidence. We’re going to keep the same team for the whole season.”
With the game tied 8-8 entering the sixth chukker, Bilbao scored the go-ahead goal early in the chukker and added a penalty-two conversion with 1:18 left to put the game away.
Bilbao scored a game-high eight goals including two penalty conversions. Benjamin Avendano and Merlotti each had one goal. Phillips led Altair with four goals, Porter had three goals and Magrini added one.