Casablanca (Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi, Julio Arellano and Juancito Bollini) scored wins over Sonny Hill (Curtis Pilot, Francisco Bilbao, Francisco Lanusse and Gonzalo De la Fuente) and Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, Pablo Spinacchi and Marc Ganzi) to earn a spot in the final of the 2016 Power Horse Invitational Friday afternoon on the grounds of the Valiente Polo Farm.
The 13-goal Casablanca team received one-half goal by handicap in the opening leg of the three-team, nine chukker round-robin as they ran over Sonny Hill by the score of 5½-3.
Goals were scarce in the opening chukker as the two teams traded goals. Juancito Bollini scored the first goal of the game for Casablanca with Francisco Lanusse responding with a goal for Sonny Hill. On the strength of their half-goal handicap, Casablanca took the early lead, 1½ -1.
Gene Goldstein added two more goals to the Casablanca total in second period play, scoring the first at the 5:02 mark of the chukker and managing to push a final goal through with just 31 seconds on the clock. Sonny Hill was held to a single goal from Francisco Bilbao. After two chukkers it was Casablanca with the 3½ -2 lead.
The third and final chukker of the mini-match saw Bilbao cut the Casablanca lead to 0ne-half goal, 3½ -3, but that was as close as Sonny Hill would get. A 30-yard penalty goal from Grant Ganzi and a well-executed nearside-neck shot from Julio Arellano gave Casablanca the 5½ -3 victory.
Valiente 8, Sonny Hill 3
Sonny Hill remained on the field for the second three chukkers of the round-robin and a talented Valiente team (Bautista Panelo, Marc Ganzi, Santi Torres and Pablo Spinacci) rode out to meet them.
Marc Ganzi scored the first goal of the game on a penalty shot for a goal that was countered by a goal from Curtis Pilot that leveled the score at 1-1. With just 3:02 left in the first period, Lanusse converted a 60-yard penalty shot that put Sonny Hill on top, 2-1. Teammate Francisco Bilbao extended the lead to two goals, 3-1 with 1:30 on the clock. Santi Torres cut the lead back to a single goal, 3-2 in the final seconds of the chukker.
Valiente took control of the game in the second chukker of the mini-match and out-scored Sonny Hill, 3-0. Torres scored the first goal of the chukker on a great individual effort followed by a goal from the field from Marc Ganzi. Torres scored the final goal of the chukker with just 11 seconds remaining to be played on a well-placed pass from Pablo Spinacci. The offensive burst was complimented by shutout defense as Valiente took the lead, 5-3.
The Valiente train continued to roll into the third and final chukker. Torres opened with his fourth goal of the day on a pass from Spinacci in the opening 35 seconds of the period, 6-3. Bautista Panelo added a goal from the field at the 2:58 point and Marc Ganzi’s third goal of the game gave the Valiente team a resounding 8-3 win as Sonny Hill was unable to score for the second consecutive chukker.
Casablanca 3½, Valiente 2
Casablanca returned to the field for the final three chukkers of the round-robin and would be facing a high-scoring Valiente lineup that scored eight times and shutout their opponents in two of three chukkers. Valiente had to give up a half-goal to the 13-goal Casablanca team but Spinacci scored the opening goal to give Valiente the lead, 1-½, in the opening minute of the period. Goldstein scored for Casablanca two minutes later for the final goal of the chukker, giving Casablanca the 1½-1 advantage after the first chukker.
Valiente fought to get back into the game in the second period, but the Casablanca defense held. Grant Ganzi scored the only goal of the period, converting a 40-yard penalty shot that extended the Casablanca lead to 2½-1.
Both teams battled throughout the final seven minutes of play. Casablanca was looking for further separation while Valiente was fighting to get back into the game. Julio Arellano blasted a shot through the Valiente goalposts from over 60-yards out to extend the Casablanca lead to 3½-1 with 4:21 left in the game. Torres responded with a goal for Valiente at the 2:17 mark, but the clock and the Casablanca defense worked against them as Casablanca registered the 3½-2 win.
The win sent Casablanca into Sunday morning’s 10am final against Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Wes Finlayson, Juan Bollini and Tom de Bruin) at the Grand Champions Polo Club. A consolation match will take place immediately afterwards between Valiente and Dutta Corp. (Tim Dutta, Piki Alberdi, Timmy Dutta and Jason Crowder.