With both teams undefeated throughout the entirety of the tournament, BTA came through in the final, defeating ERG 8-5 to secure the trophy on Sunday, October 15, at Houston Polo Club in Houston, Texas. Substituting for Scott Wood, Anson Moore entered play halfway through the third chukker for ERG.
Evenly matched at three wins each headed into the final, both teams were eager to assert their place as tournament champions. As the first chukker began, Marcos Alberdi started play off with the first goal of the game. He was answered by a Penalty 4 conversion from Steve Krueger*, ending the first in a 1-1 tie. ERG pulled ahead in the second, with two consecutive goals by Michel Dorignac and Tomas Alberdi*. Unwilling to back down, BTA retaliated with two goals of their own in the third, ending the half tied again 3-all.
Shutting out ERG again in the fourth, Krueger successfully converted a Penalty 2, followed up by a quick goal from teammate Shane Rice. Approaching the final chukker, Dorignac broke ERG’s flatlined scoring with a single goal, but a goal by Rice maintained the margin ending the chukker 6-4 in favor of BTA. Rice kept the momentum going with an early Penalty 2 conversion in the sixth and Mason Wroe’s* goal doubled the score 8-4. Needing to act fast, Marcos Alberdi put another goal on the board for ERG, but the comeback attempt wasn’t enough to overtake the lead. The final whistle sounded sealing the well-deserved H. Ben Taub Memorial Tournament victory of BTA 8-5.
Scoring half of the total goals for BTA, Shane Rice was named Most Valuable Player Professional. Best Playing Pony Professional honors was awarded to 11-year-old Princessa, played by Mason Wroe in the third chukker and owned by BTA Polo. Trained by Carlos Ramierez, Princessa is an Off The Track Thoroughbred (OTTB). Best Playing Pony Amateur was presented to 11-year-old Joan, owned and played by Kelly Beal in the sixth chukker. “Joan was H. Ben Taub’s mare,” Houston Polo Club Assistant Polo Manager K.C. Beal said. “When he passed away, the horses were distributed for sale throughout Houston. Miguel and Chloe Torres ended up with Joan. Miguel played her last fall in the 12-goal and sold her to Kelly this February.”
*Steve Krueger, Tomas Alberdi and Mason Wroe are members of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
All photos courtesy of ©Kaylee Wroe/Houston Polo Club.