High Ground Polo, making its fall debut, has won the USPA Fall Plates Tournament Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club. In front of a good crowd, High Ground Polo defeated Dutta Corp, 10-9, in the final medium goal tournament of the fall season.
High Ground Polo (Joe Meyer, JJ Celis, Nic Roldan, Scott Swerdlin) came from behind after trailing Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, Wes Finlayson, Jesse Bray, Carlitos Gracida) the first two chukkas.
Dutta Corp took advantage of early turnovers by High Ground Polo to take an early 4-1 lead in the opening chukka. The momentum started to turn when Roldan shut down Bray’s goal attempt just in front of the goal and scored back-to-back goals early in the second chukka to trail by only one (4-3).
Celis tied the game early in the third chukka with his first goal of the game and Roldan came back with a quick goal for High Ground Polo to take the lead (5-4) and never relinquished it after that. High Ground Polo looked even stronger in the second half. Roldan scored his fifth goal of the game early in the fourth chukka for a 7-4 advantage.
Dutta Corp came within one goal four times in the second half but High Ground Polo put the game out of reach when Celis scored on an offside shot after taking his defender out and Roldan scored an insurance goal. Bray scored the final goal of the game with 17 seconds left. Bray led Dutta Corp with four goals. Gracida added two penalty goals.
American 8-goaler Nic Roldan was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high seven goals and playing well defensively. It was the first time in Roldan’s storied career he won the USPA Fall Plates tournament. Joy, an 8-year-old Dark Bay mare owned and ridden by Celis, was named Best Playing Pony.
“It was a great game even though we started out being down, 4-1,” Roldan said. “That was not ideal. We kept it together and didn’t panic. We pulled away and then almost lost our advantage but we rallied hard as a team.”
Barbarossa (Santos Bollini, Leo Mandelbaum, Juan Bollini, Julio Ezcurra) won the consolation round robin with wins over Travieso (Tony Calle, Guille Aguero, Carlucho Arellano, Tim Dutta) and Postage Stamp Farm (Annabelle Gundlach, Bob Puetz, Brandon Phillips, Martin Estrada).
Grand Champions enjoyed its most successful medium goal season in its nine-year history. The six tournament winners were Postage Stamp Farm (Annabelle Gundlach, Leo Mandelbaum, Guille Aguero, Brandon Phillips) in the Tackeria Invitational; US Trust (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Luis Escobar, Jesse Bray) in the US Trust Cup; Postage Stamp Farm (Julio Ezcurra, Brandon Phillips, Leo Mandelbaum, Annabelle Gundlach) in the USPA Fall Classic; Dutta Corp (Tim Dutta, Martin Estrada, JJ Celis, Wes Finlayson) in the USPA Kay Colee Memorial; FlexJet (Melissa Ganzi, Leo Mandelbaum, Martin Estrada, Juan Bollini) and High Ground (Joe Meyer, JJ Celis, Nic Roldan, Scott Swerdlin).
Grand Champions’ staff now turns its focus to the exciting 20-goal polo season which got under way Wednesday with two games in the much-anticipated North American Cup. Grand Champions is one of only four clubs in the nation to stage 20-goal tournaments. The club is hosting this week’s USPA North American Cup and Nov. 11-22 USPA National 20-Goal tournament. The 2015 fall schedule also features a world-class doubleheader on November 28th featuring the fourth annual International Cup which has become a holiday weekend tradition marking the end of the fall season.