Polo Players Edition

AUG 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1005812

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Page 54 of 67

P O L O R E P O R T POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 53 The tournament was played at the 4- to 8-goal level and had four teams representing the Army (Sgt. 1st Class Joe England, Cpl. Zach Grob, Sgt. Paul Knapp), Marine Corps (Lt. Col. Dean Daggett, Sgt. Chris Jones, Capt. Jake Flournoy), Navy (Lt. Cmdr Mike Yermakov, AE3 Alex Jenkins, Cmdr. Karl Hilberg) and Air Force (Maj. Mark Gillespie, Maj. Cody Goetz, Sgt. Rob Phipps). All the players were active duty, retired or former military members. Players traveled from all over the country to compete in this inaugural event. As beautiful, warm weather was predicted for both days, excitement built up for the tournament. In Saturday games, Army flew past the Air Force, 19-3, and the Marines sailed passed the Navy, 18-14. The consolation match pitted Navy against Air Force. The first two chukkers had Air Force dominating, 7- 3, going into halftime. Once play resumed, Navy was revitalized, scoring five goals. However, Air Force's Gillespie responded with four of his own including the first two-pointer of the day, ending the third chukker, 11-8, in favor of Air Force. Navy continued to rally, with Hilberg again scoring a two- pointer and Jenkins adding one more to tie the score with less than a minute remaining. Goetz was able to convert in the final seconds, winning the game, 12-11, for Air Force. The championship match had 5- goal Paul Knapp leading Army while 4- goaler Jake Flournoy led the Marines. The first chukker turned out to be the highest-scoring of the match as both teams came out to fight for the win. Daggett struck first with a backshot to goal. This was closely followed by Knapp scoring from the field to tie the game up, if just for a minute. Flournoy then scored twice from the field. However, key fouls by Marine Corps allowed Knapp to convert two Penalty 4s to tie up the chukker. Early in the second, Army converted a Penalty 3, which was again matched by Flournoy to tie the score at 4-4. Army responded with goals by Grob and Knapp to end the first half, 6-4, in favor of Army. The third chukker was all Army with England scoring his first of the match and a Penalty 1 was called on Marines. With an 8-4 lead at the start of the final chukker, Army was playing strong defense and continuing to increase its lead with two goals by Grob and one by England. Marine Corps was not done as Jones scored a last two-pointer for a final score of 11-6. Army won the inaugural USPA National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup. Alex Jenkins was named MVP and Best Playing Pony was presented to Javier Insua's Solita, ridden by Jake F lournoy, Cody Goetz and Paul Knapp. "Although most of the players had never met before, there was an immediate sense of camaraderie based around the sport and all having the common experience of military service," Sportsmanship Award recipient and Team USPA alumni Grob explained. "The military forces you to become a team player and these tournaments are perfect examples of how those values translate directly to polo. It makes it obvious as to why polo was so readily adapted by the armed forces and used as part of the training cycle." WHITEHALL RANCH ACES WESTERN CHALLENGE Whitehall Ranch slipped past Tonkawa, 9-8, in the final of the 12- goal Western Challenge at the Houston Polo Club on June 3. Whitehall Ranch (Bill Lane, Toly Ulloa, Facundo Obregon, Sterling Giannico) came from behind in the last 14 minutes to overcome a strong Tonkawa squad (Jeff Hildebrand, Cody Ellis, Matt Coppola, Tommy Biddle). Tonkawa began with a handicap goal, but Toly Ulloa wasted no time in overcoming it after jumping on a pass from Sterling Giannico. Biddle scored a Penalty 2 for Tonkawa to put it up 2-1. Matt Coppola sandwiched goals around an out-of-the-air goal shot from Facundo Obregon to give Tonkawa the 4-2 advantage. Giannico matched a pair of goals from Biddle to end the first half in favor of Tonkawa, 6-4. Giannico sunk a Penalty 4 then scored a cut shot from a bowl-in at the Zach Grob carries the ball with pressure from Jake Flournoy. DAVID MURRELL

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