Outscoring every opponent throughout bracket play, The Island House surged to the top of the leaderboard 3-0, facing off against Reelay in the Monty Waterbury Final on Friday, July 5, at Greenwich Polo Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. Seeking to redeem their previous defeat, Reelay produced a competitive final much tighter than their first tournament match up, however The Island House held on to a narrow lead to win the ultimate victory 12-10.
“The Monty Waterbury was the cup that we really wanted to win this summer. It’s very special to be able to have our names engraved on such an old and historic trophy. Toro Ruiz, Santino Magrini and I played two 12-goal tournaments in Argentina and a 12-goal in Florida during the winter which was a great way to prepare for the Greenwich season.” – Peter Holowesko
Setting the tone early for an even game, both teams secured a goal apiece in the opening chukker, Reelay’s initial goal on handicap allowing them to maintain a slight, but short-lived advantage. Trading goals throughout the first half, Toro Ruiz converted a precise Penalty 3 which was quickly answered by a Penalty 4 conversion off the mallet of Mariano Gonzalez. Leveling the playing field, The Island House added a field goal to their tally to end the second 3-all. Heading toward halftime without a clear front runner, the third yielded a strong offensive chukker as both sides matched each other goal for goal. Navigating defenders to secure a final goal, Ruiz’s skillful efforts and strategic play ended the chukker 6-5 in favor of The Island House.
As the momentum continued to increase in the second half, the ability to deliver on penalty opportunities proved crucial to the progression of the game. Earning a goal at the start of the fourth, Reelay’s two 7-goal players added consecutive Penalty 3’s to the board. Once again, Ruiz fought through the crowd to earn two field goals and maintain a one-goal lead. Keeping the game within a goal and mirroring one another’s plays, father and son Mariano and Peke Gonzalez kept the penalty conversions going in the fifth. “I played the entire season in Florida with my dad so I’ve played more often with him than on an opposing team,” Peke Gonzalez said. “I would rather have him on my team than play against him!”
Entering the final chukker 10-9, The Island House’s main objective was to create a comfortable gap, preventing Reelay from stealing the win in the final moments of play. Nimbly working his way down the field, Peke Gonzalez stepped up to the challenge with back-to-back field goals, creating the largest lead of the day. Striking back with a Penalty 2 conversion, Reelay fell short of their mark and conceded the win to The Island House with a final score of 12-10.
Interestingly, The Island House team was built by Matias Magrini, a man who has contributed to Peter Holowesko’s growth in the sport over the past few years. Coached by both Matias Magrini and Mariano Gonzalez when not playing each other, the young Island House team benefitted from the expertise of older generations. “What I think worked in the final is what has been working well for us so far this season. We’ve truly been playing like a team, everyone plays selflessly and works for each other,” Holowesko commented. “We also tried to play a very open style of polo, hitting back shots and passing the ball. Despite having very different playing styles it has really seemed to click and it’s great to have a team who’s always positive and supportive of each other, no matter what’s happening in the game.”
Although many teams are often made up of close friends, The Island House’s Santino Magrini, Toro Ruiz and Peke Gonzalez have the added plus of being housemates. “We’ve played together several times so we know each other pretty well,” Peke Gonzalez revealed. “I believe that has been tremendously helpful to finding a successful system. Also, because we live together the three of us are always together and when Peter is in town we all hang out.”
“I’ve been playing with Toro since he was 16 years old and three goals and it’s been amazing to watch him develop into a seven goaler,” Holowesko added. “Santino I also know well and have enjoyed the opportunity to play with the last few years.”
Responsible for four of The Island House’s 12 total goals, Peke Gonzalez was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Caña Fly, a mare played by 2018 Monty Waterbury champion (Huntsman), Toro Ruiz, in the second and sixth chukkers.