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Casablanca Defeats Santa Rita to Advance in World Polo League Founder’s Cup

By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: ChukkerTV

WELLINGTON, FL, February 28, 2021— Casablanca defeated Santa Rita by a score of 15-10 in the third match of the WPL Founder’s Cup.

Casablanca (Juancito Bollini, Grant Ganzi, Barto Castagnola, and Juan Martin Nero) met Santa Rita (Sugar Erskine, Nacho Figueras, Pablo Spinacci, and Horacio Llorente) on Field One at Grand Champions Polo Club yesterday. Casablanca had a team handicap of 26 goals, while Santa Rita was rated at 24 goals. Santa Rita started the match with two goals on handicap.

Play was back and forth for just over three minutes until Barto Castagnola put the first goal of the day on the board. With slightly more than 30 seconds remaining, Horacio Llorente took a Penalty 5 from the spot, dribbling the ball and then smashing a long shot to goal just as the buzzer sounded. The period ended with Santa Rita leading 3-1.

The second chukker was more challenging for Santa Rita, as a strong defense from Casablanca kept them from scoring. Barto Castagnola converted a Penalty 2, followed by a goal from Juan Martin Nero. Castagnola scored a pair of goals from the field and Casablanca ended the period leading 5-3.

In the third chukker, Santa Rita dominated their end of the field in the first two minutes of play, with Sugar Erskine evading Barto Castagnola to find the uprights. With three minutes remaining, an uneven rideoff gave Castagnola the opportunity to convert a Penalty 4 for his fifth goal of the game. At 2:17, Grant Ganzi picked up a loose ball and took it to goal. With two seconds on the clock, Juancito Bollini put the ball between the posts to end the half 8-4 for Casablanca.

Grant Ganzi put his second goal of the game on the board with just over 4:30 on the clock, putting Casablanca in the lead by 9-4. Santa Rita roared back to life, and following a Penalty 2 conversion by Horacio Llorente, Sugar Erskine knocked the ball in to cut the lead to 9-6. At 1:00, Llorente took control of the ball, taking it down the field and through the uprights to end the chukker 9-7 and cut Casablanca’s lead to two goals.

Barto Castagnola started the fifth chukker by converting a Penalty 3 just before the clock ticked past seven minutes. At just under 6 minutes, Pablo Spinacci got out in front on a breakaway with Grant Ganzi in hot pursuit. At the last moment Spinacci checked up and left Ganzi run by, then turned to put the ball through the posts. Moments later, Nacho Figueras scored for Santa Rita, shaving Casablanca’s lead to one. A pair of back-to-back goals from Castagnola ended the period 12-9 for Casablanca.

Down by three goals, Santa Rita faced an uphill battle in the final chukker. In the first minute of play, Barto Castagnola took advance of a misread play by Santa Rita to take control of the ball and score. With 3:16 remaining, Nacho Figueras put the ball through for Santa Rita’s final goal of the day. Juancito Bollini found the goal for Casablanca, taking the score up to 14-10. With 16 seconds left in play, Castagnola made a successful shot on goal to end the match 15-10 for Casablanca. Castagnola was the high scoring player, responsible for 10 of Casablanca’s 15 goals.

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