Eager to pull out the ultimate upset of the Ylvisaker Cup tournament, finalist GSA challenged Valiente for the prestigious title on Sunday, February 25, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Previously losing by one goal in their first tournament match up, GSA’s valiant effort for redemption ultimately came up short, Valiente outscoring their opponent 8-6.
Anticipating strong, fast polo, GSA’s Mariano Gonzalez took the ball straight to goal within the first minute of play, Valiente nimbly responding with two of their own. Competitive throughout the first half, both teams courageously battled for the edge that would put them ahead. Two unanswered goals gave GSA the lead after the second. Recognizing an opening in the third, Adolfo Cambiaso picked up a loose ball and scored an easy goal. A final goal by Matias Magrini ended the half 4-3 in favor of GSA, with each teammate contributing one a piece.
Riddled by penalties, play slowed in the second half as a determined GSA fought to shut down Valiente’s set plays. Opening the fourth with an undefended Penalty 2 conversion from the spot, Cambiaso dominated the fourth and fifth, scoring four consecutive goals, including three off the penalty line. Not to be underestimated, Henry Porter continued to confidently pursue players well above his handicap. Gonzalez received a yellow flag in the fifth and immediately took out his frustration by working the ball down field past Santi Torres* to score GSA’s first goal since the third.
Heading into the final chukker 7-5, Valiente was unstoppable and sealed the win with a final pass up to Torres who put the ball between the goal posts. Relentless until the end, GSA displayed strategic player positioning and managed to pick up the last goal by Dylan Rossiter, ending the game with a win for Valiente 8-6.
Reflecting on his first high-goal tournament, Bautista Panelo was happy with the day’s outcome. “I have worked with Valiente since 2014, and work with the horses,” said Panelo. “Chance and Aerea, my fourth and fifth chukkers were bred from La Dolfina. I trained them, and so my happiness is doubled getting to play horses that I have trained. I never imagined that I would be here playing. They told me in December that I was on the team, so this is kind of new for me, this professional life. I am trying to stay humble and stick with Valiente, and if they need me for another tournament I’ll be ready.”
Scoring six of Valiente’s eight goals, Adolfo Cambiaso was named Most Valuable Player. “Bob never won this tournament so we are happy to win,” said Cambiaso. “We had an okay game, I think we played better in the semifinals. I was lucky to convert my penalties in the second half and that’s what put us back in the game.” Best Playing Pony honors were awarded, for the second time in the tournament, to Macarena, a six-year-old grey American Thoroughbred played by GSA’s Mariano Gonzalez in the first and fifth chukkers.
The USPA will livestream both the Iglehart Cup and C.V. Whitney Cup from the International Polo Club Palm Beach starting at 12:00pm ET on Wednesday, February 28.
*Santi Torres is a member 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 ©David Lominska/www.polographics.com