By Alex Webbe
Aspen Valley Polo Club (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini and Lucas Lalor) made short work of their two-chukker meeting with La Karina (Ace Boyd, Daren Tamplin and Julio Novillo Astrada) Tuesday evening, destroying them in a 12-2½ onslaught before disposing of Sopris Mt. Ranch (Segundo Merlos, Stewart Armstrong and Tomas Pieres) in the final two chukkers of the round-robin, 5½-3, earning them a berth in Thursday’s USPA National Arena Chairman’s Cup final.
Aspen Valley jumped out to an early 4-½ (La Karina received one-half goal by handicap) lead on single goals from Lucas Lalor and Juancito Bollini. Grant Ganzi followed up with a pair of goals of his own for the four goal lead. Julio Novillo Astrada kept La Karina alive with a two-point goal late the chukker to trail, 4-2½.
Aspen Valley owned the second period of the mini-match, outscoring La Karina 8-0. Grant Ganzi led the attack with four more goals. Lalor added a two-point shot and a goal from the field with Juancito Bollini scoring his first goal of the game for the 12-2½ final.
Sopris Mt. Ranch 5, La Karina 3½
La Karina returned to the arena for a two-goal matchup with Sopris Mt. Ranch, but fared little better. Once again, La Karina received one-half goal by handicap but the balanced Sopris Mt. Ranch took the early 4-2½ lead.
Goals from Segundo Merlos, Stewart Armstrong and Tomas Pieres (two) were countered by a pair of goals from La Karina’s Astrada as Sopris Mt. Ranch left the arena at the end of the first chukker on top of a 4-2½ score.
Ace Boyd and Segundo Merlos exchanged goals in the final chukker as Mt. Sopris Ranch rode into the final two periods of the round-robin with a 5-3½ victory.
Aspen Valley 3½, Sopris Mt. Ranch 3
Aspen Valley received one-half goal by handicap from Sopris Mt. Ranch for the final two chukkers of the round-robin and found out that they would dearly need it.
Stewart Armstrong scored the first goal of the game followed by goals from Juancito Bollini and Grant Ganzi of Aspen Valley. A goal from Segundo Merlos and a final goal from Armstrong ended the first chukker with Aspen Valley defending a fragile one-half goal lead, 3½-3.
Aspen Valley’s defense went to work in the final chukker of the match, holding Sopris Mt. Ranch scoreless while Lalor piled two more goals on the Aspen Valley total. At the end of the game it was Aspen Valley with the 5½-3 win and an invitation to play in Thursday’s final, with an opponent yet to be determined.
Audi 8, Grand Champions 4½
In the second round-robin of the day, Audi (Marc Ganzi, Hilario Figueras and Nic Roldan) opened the competition with an 8-4 ½ win over an out-gunned Grand Champions Polo Club (Olivia Merlos/Santos Merlos, Will Jacobs and Tincho Merlos) lineup that included youngsters Will Jacobs and Santos and Olivia Merlos.
Hilario Figueras scored three times in the opening chukker, with Audi team captain Marc Ganzi adding a pair of goals for the early 5-1½ lead (Grand Champions received one-half goal by handicap). Tincho Merlos scored the only goal of the chukker for Grand Champions.
Hilario Figueras added two more goals in the second chukker and Nic Roldan got on the scoreboard for Audi as they held their early lead in the 8-4½ victory. Olivia Merlos scored her first goal of the game for Grand Champions with Tincho Merlos picking up a two-pointer in the loss.
Flexjet 6, Grand Champions 2½
A talented Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Gracida and Juan Bollini) lineup made short work of the youthful Grand Champions team in spite of a narrow 2-1½ goal lead after the opening chukker.
Once again Grand Champions received one-half goal by handicap and actually had the early 1½-0 lead on an opening goal from Santos Merlos. Goals from Juan Bollini and Carlitos Gracida quickly erased the edge, giving Flexjet the half-goal edge.
Disciplined defense in the second period was complimented by single goals from Melissa Ganzi and Juan Bollini and a pair of goals from Carlitos Gracida for the 6-2½ final. Grand Champions got their
final goal of the match from Will Jacobs on a dramatic breakaway.
Flexjet 5, Audi 3
The deciding match up of the day featured Audi and Flexjet, with the winner going on to the USPA National Arena Chairman’s Cup final.
Audi’s Hilario Figueras scored the opening goal of the first chukker for the early 1-0 Audi lead, but Flexjet took control of the game for the balance of the period. Single goals from Melissa Ganzi and Carlitos Gracida were bolstered by two goals from teammate Juan Bollini as Flexjet left the arena at the end of the opening chukker on top of a 4-1 score.
Audi’s Marc Ganzi scored the first goal of the final chukker, 4-2, but Flexjet answered back with a goal from Carlitos Gracida, 5-2. Marc Ganzi scored again for Audi, but it wouldn’t be enough as Flexjet held on to register the 5-3 win, and earn a spot in the final against Aspen Valley.
Aspen Valley will face Flexjet on Thursday afternoon at the Aspen Valley Polo Club arena at 2:30pm (MST) in the final of the 2016 USPA National Arena Chairman’s Cup.