by U.S. Polo Correspondent Alex Webbe

The ninth annual La Martina Miami Beach Polo World Cup, the world’s largest and most prestigious Beach Polo competition, culminated in a tense final match between the tournament’s top two teams, resulting in a closely-fought win by defending champions The Raleigh/Comcast. The Raleigh Hotel/Comcast team, comprised of Bash Kazi, John Gobin, Juan Monteverde and David Tafuri, trailed by two goals at halftime but exploded with six third chukker goals to ride past a talented La Martina foursome, consisting of Santi Torres, Carlos Gracida and Guillermo Steta, to win 12-10 in the final afternoon match.

The two teams fought to a 3-3 tie in the opening chukker with La Martina’s Santi Torres scoring the opening goal of the match before converting on a two-point shot from midfield. The Raleigh/Comcast scored a pair of goals from Juan Monteverde (one on a penalty shot) and a single goal from John Gobin for the 3-3 score. Pro Hall of Famer Carlos Gracida took the reins in the second period, scoring on a two-point shot from over 50 yards out and a single goal to give La Martina a 6-4 halftime advantage.

Monteverde scored The Raleigh/Comcast team’s only goal of the chukker. The Raleigh/Comcast team took control of the game in the third period with six goals. Gobin scored twice from the arena and added a 2-pointer. Monteverde scored twice in the chukker for a 10-8 lead. Torres and Gracida scored single goals for La Martina who trailed for the first time all day. La Martina fought to get back in to the game in the fourth and final period, the Raleigh/Comcast team’s defense was up to the task. La Martina scored two goals from Torres but responded with single goals from Gobin and Monteverde for the 12-10 victory. Gobin and Monteverde scored six goals apiece for the Raleigh/Comcast team. Gobin was named MVP for the final match. Santi Torres’ mare “Mary West” received Best Playing Pony honors.

Earlier games had the team from Grey Goose scoring an 11-9 win over SLH, while Merchant Hub and The James Royal Palm Hotel/Jet Blue fought to a 10-10 draw.

“This year’s tournament was the most exciting competition we have had to-date,” said Bruce Orosz, president and co-founder of The Polo Life, LLC. “We thank all of our patrons, sponsors and supporters for making this year the best ever.”