Polo Players Edition

NOV 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/1041752

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Page 34 of 67

POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 33 Ruiz made up for it with a neckshot into the target, increasing the spread to four. Magrini got something going for Iconica after hopping on a pass from Mariano Gonzalez to split the uprights. Soon after Iconica sent the ball toward the goal. Panelo tried to defend, turning the ball in front of the goal mouth, only to have it bounce between the posts, scoring for the other team and cutting Iconica's deficit to two to begin the final chukker, 10-8 in Audi's favor. Coincidentally, it was the same exact score the teams held to start the sixth the last time the teams met. In that match, Iconica allowed Audi just one more goal while slamming in four to take the win, so Iconica couldn't be counted out. Peke Gonzalez admitted the last win against the tough Audi squad had a lot to do with luck. This time, luck didn't seem to be on their side. Some of the best horses were back on the field. Peke Gonzalez counted on his fast gray Azúcar and Mariano Gonzalez came out on Ballerina, both for second appearances. It started out promising when, with just over 5½ minutes in the sixth, Mariano Gonzalez muscled past Aguerre and Ruiz, guiding through a sure goal. But in another stroke of bad luck, the ball took a hop into a horse's foot just before the goal line, remarkably bouncing parallel to the goal and just around the outside of the post. Brant also continued experiencing misfortune, carrying the ball close to goal several times, hitting all the difficult shots on both sides of the horse, only to have the ball skirt the goal time and again. With less than two minutes on the clock, Peke Gonzalez guided the ball to within inches of the center of the goal only to have the horse kick it sideways, sending it just wide, something he likely couldn't duplicate if he tried. Thirty seconds later, he picked up the ball after it hopped over his dad's mallet about 25 yards from the goal and with Panelo defending, sent it through the posts. The umpires blew the whistle, penalizing Panelo for fouling and giving Iconica a Penalty 1—a goal and a mid-field free hit. It was just the break the team needed but down to the last 30 seconds, everything would have to go their way to tie the match. Their luck was short-lived as Aguerre intercepted the ball, backing to Panelo, who, riding Lucky Five, took the ball to the other end of the field. He shot on goal with Magrini defending but the ball still found its way through the post as time expired. Audi hung on for the 11-9 victory. Joaquin Panelo—flawless from the penalty line, converting three goals and scoring one from the field—was named MVP and his bay mare, Penelope was named Best Playing Pony, an award presented by Peter Orthwein. It was Panelo's second East Coast Open appearance and first win. A humbled Panelo said winning MVP felt amazing but gave his team just as much credit. "I just went out there to help my team and went to every ball like it was the last. I guess everyone saw that and it feels great," he told the USPA. It was back-to-back wins for Ruiz as he faced Magrini, last year's teammate, in the final. "It's tough, it's alway tough," he admitted. "[Magrini] gave me horses and both teams had the same chances, but I'm happy we won." Ruiz was high-scorer of the match with five goals to his name. Aguerre, who has won the tournament numerous times with Peter Brant, was happy to have won it with Chris Brant. "It was a great game to play and an awesome tournament to finish up the season," he told the USPA. USPA CEO Bob Puetz congratulates Audi's Toro Ruiz, Chris Brant, Mariano Aguerre and Joaquin Panelo after their East Coast Open victory.

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