Wellington, Fla. – April 11, 2017 – The atmosphere was electric at the 8th Annual International Gay Polo Tournament on Saturday, April 8, in Wellington, Florida at International Polo Club Palm Beach – Isla Carrol Field West . Seminole Casino Coconut Creek defeated Goshen Hill for the Founder’s Cup by coin toss after ending the game 4-4. Cedar Crest Stables took home the Senator Cup, besting RSM after a penalty shoot-out.
The Founder’s Cup
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek’s Gina Padilla (sub for Rafik Boughadoui) scored the first goal of the game on a penalty two. Teammate Ashley Mackenzie built on Padilla’s momentum and surged through the pack on a breakaway out of the bowl-in to increase Seminole Casino’s lead 2-0. Goshen Hill’s Kenny Mayer answered back with a run to goal ending the first chukker 2-1.
In the second chukker, Goshen Hill’s team captain Joey Casey launched an effective pass to Alex Green, who sunk the goal to tie the game 2-2. For the remainder of the second chukker and throughout the third, both teams fought unsuccessfully to outscore the other, keeping the score 2-2 as they entered the fourth and final chukker.
A penalty two by Mackenzie put Seminole Casino Coconut Creek in a temporary lead before Green handily ran another ball to goal for Goshen Hill, 3-3. Seminole Casino Coconut Creek immediately answered with a neck-shot by Mackenzie to regain their lead. After more flat-out play to take the title, Mayer came through with a skillful goal for Goshen Hill with 40 seconds left in the chukker to tie the game 4-4. Always good sports, the teams opted for a coin toss to decide the winner. Seminole Casino emerged victorious with a little help from Lady Luck.
“I think I’m the luckiest guy on the field to get to play with three gorgeous women,” Seminole Casino team member Jed Persall said. “We had experienced coaches on the field and that was one of the most fun matches I’ve ever played. Both teams were so equal and everyone played their heart out. There was a lot of great camaraderie on the field throughout the game, and that’s the way it should be.”
The Senator Cup
In the Senator Cup finals, RSM and Cedar Crest Stables proved to be another even match-up with both teams shooting wide throughout the first chukker until RSM’s Chip McKenney drove the ball through the goal posts to take an early lead. In the second chukker, Stacie Simpkins scored two thrilling goals, positioning Cedar Crest Stables in the lead 2-1.
The third chukker started off with a bang as RSM immediately took command of the ball resulting in a goal by McKenney and a tie game going into the final chukker. RSM continued their forward momentum with another goal by McKenney and one by Daniel Bain to take the lead 4-2. A whistle on the play gave Cedar Crest Stables a chance to step up their game, with Simpkins converting a penalty two, narrowing the score 4-3. An additional goal by Severence McLaughlin brought yet another tie game and the end of the chukker. Umpires opted for a three-man shoot-out in an effort to break the tie. After three grueling rounds of penalty shots, Cedar Crest Stables snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Severence McLaughlin was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament and “Fantasma”, played by Daniel Bain was Best Playing Pony, presented by Ashley Mackenzie of La Martina.
“The number of people watching was unreal and the game was very tight,” Andres Lapacette said of his GPL debut. “I’ve seen pictures of this event however there is nothing like being here. The field was fantastic and the people are amazing and very welcoming. My days here have scored a 10 out of 10.”
McKenney, who not only founded the Gay Polo League but has grown the tournament to the glittering spectacle it is today, was thrilled with today’s matches.
“Even though we came in second, I’m very happy for the winning team because Cat Malone and Cedar Crest Stables have supported us from the very beginning. The thing that is so exciting is that the level of play gets better and better and I think, by far, this was an extraordinary year as far as polo goes for us,” McKenney said. “This is our 8th Annual International Gay Polo Tournament, and each year we bring new players onto the field to play with us and new spectators to cheer the teams on.”