WELLINGTON, Fla., November 11, 2021—In an emotionally-charged final, Audi won the John T. Oxley Memorial Tournament Wednesday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
In front of a good crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience, Audi (Sugar Erskine, Nic Roldan, Marc Ganzi, Brandon Phillips) defeated Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Jeff Hall, Juan Bollini), 13-12, in overtime.
With the score tied 12-12 after regulation, Erskine lofted the ball from 45 yards out to score with 5:08 left for an exciting finish.
Juan Bollini of Seminole Coconut Creek Casino defends Marc Ganzi.
Roldan scored a game-high five goals, including three in the sixth chukker, and was named Most Valuable Player. Akiabava, owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm and played by Marc Ganzi was Best Playing Pony.
Since October 23rd Roldan had been plagued by a nagging left ankle sprain (sustained while hiking in Scottsdale, Ariz.) that had been hampering his playing until Wednesday.
MVP Nic Roldan of Audi goes for the big hit past Jason Crowder.
„It‘s good to be back on the field,“ Roldan said. „The ankle injury was nothing dramatic but a bit of a nuisance. Today was the first day I felt pretty good. I wouldn‘t say I was 100 percent but I felt good.“
In the evenly-matched fast-paced game, both teams had scoring opportunities to win in regulation.
Brandon Phillips of Audi pursues the ball with Jason Crowder defending.
The lead changed hands 15 times throughout the game with Audi leading by as many as three goals in the third chukker (7-4) and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek leading by two (10-8) in the fifth chukker and two in the sixth chukker (11-9).
Behind Roldan‘s hot mallet, Audi started to reel in Seminole Casino Coconut Creek early in the sixth chukker. Roldan scored at 5:02 to trail by one, 11-10. Two minutes later Roldan scored again to tie the game at 11-11.
Audi‘s Nic Roldan scoring one of his three goals in the sixth chukker.
Crowder scored the go-ahead goal (12-11) through a crowd of defenders with 2:11 left in regulation. Seminole Casino Coconut Creek had another chance to score but it sailed wide setting up Roldan‘s heroics with 23 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek had the first opportunity to score in the first minute of the game but was unable to capitalize. After Roldan was fouled with 5:15 left he hit a long ball from center field to Phillips who was called off by Erskine who had the clear shot and lofted it over defenders to clinch the game.
Jason Crowder of Seminole Casino Coconut Creek works the near side shot with Marc Ganzi defending.
„I thought it was really a great game to play,“ Roldan said. „It was open and very few fouls. I thought Seminole Casino had a better day. I think they deserved to win that game today. We got lucky in the end.
„We kept fighting. We just never gave up. They were tough and definitely made us work for that victory. With a little bit of luck and a good set play from midfield it was a good game. It was a fun game to play.“
Melissa Ganzi of Seminole Casino Coconut Creek works the ball past Sugar Erskine and Nic Roldan.
In addition to Roldan‘s five goals Erskine and Phillips each had three goals and Ganzi added two.
„It‘s great to win,“ Roldan said. „It‘s great for your confidence. It is a beautiful trophy and it‘s great to have it back.“
Jeff Hall of Seminole Casino Coconut Creek reaches for the ball out of the saddle.
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek got balanced scoring from its‘ lineup. Melissa Ganzi, Crowder and Hall each had four goals.
In the Just For The Fun Of It subsidiary game, Newport (Gene Goldstein, Grant Ganzi, Santi Toccalino, Kris Kampsen) defeated WPL (Santos Bollini, Pablo Spinacci, Juancito Bollini, Tommy Biddle), 10-8.
Nic Roldan receives his MVP plaque from awards presenter George Dupont of the National Polo Museum Hall of Fame.
Playing well as a team, Newport had the upper hand for most of the game. WPL had its only lead (2-1) late in the first chukker. After that it was all Newport leading by as many as three (6-3) in the first half.
Newport continued to dominate in the second half leading by three again (8-5) in the fifth chukker and four (10-6) to open the sixth chukker.
Best Playing Pony Akiabava owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Kampsen led scoring with a game-high seven goals. Grant Ganzi had two and Toccalino added one.
Biddle led WPL with three goals. Juancito Bollini and Spinacci each had two and Santos Bollini added one.
Hall of Famer John T. Oxley was a pioneer in polo. The founder of the now-defunct Royal Palm Polo Sports Club in Boca Raton played polo well into his 80s. He started playing at age 46 and won the U.S. Open twice, Sunshine League, Rolex Gold Cup, Monty Waterbury and Silver Cup.
Tommy Biddle of WPL works the ball downfield.
At age 83, Oxley became the oldest player ever to win a major polo event when his team won the International Gold Cup. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. Oxley died of a heart attack at his summer home in Tulsa, Okla. in 1996. He was 87.
The John T. Oxley Memorial Tournament was the fourth of five medium goal tournaments. Seminole Casino Coconut Creek won the season-opening Fall Classic; La Indiana won the Tackeria Invitational; and Zahedi Chogan won the Fall Plates last weekend.
Newport teammates Gene Goldstein and Kris Kampsen double team Santos Bollini.
„This has been the best fall season we have ever had,“ Roldan said. „We are playing 16 to 20-goal polo and it‘s very competitive. The weather is amazing and fields are great. We have a bunch of American players here supporting polo. This is really a good stepping stone for what‘s to come in the future.“
Team sponsor Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, a longtime supporter of polo, offers an energized and upscale local’s casino experience featuring Las Vegas-style Slots, live Table Games, live Poker, award-winning dining and live entertainment.
Grant Ganzi of Newport leans into his shot past Juancito Bollini.
Rated No. 1 by Consumer Reports as the best auto brand overall, Audi is a valued sponsor with a rich winning tradition in polo. The German automobile manufacturer designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles throughout the world including West Palm Beach.
The high goal tournament season begins Friday with the USPA North American Cup featuring Audi, Casablanca, Newport and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. The second high goal tournament, the USPA National 20 Goal is Nov. 16-21.
Gene Goldstein of Newport battles for the ball.
The highlight of the fall season is the Nov. 27 doubleheader with the Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo and 10th annual International Cup. Sponsorship packages are available.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
Kris Kampsen of Newport goes for the hook on Juancito Bollini.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation‘s largest club with 13 well-manicured, world-class fields at GCPC and Santa Rita Polo Farm, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal including the 26-goal World Polo League in addition to special events.
During the winter season, Grand Champions and Santa Rita will host 23 tournaments from Jan. 15 to April 15.
Juan Bollini and Jason Crowder with Andres Samper Seade CEO of Romero Merino Fashion displaying their swag.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its‘ mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099.
The entire fall season will be live-streamed on Wellington-based ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting with cutting-edge technology including 4K TV currently making its‘ debut. ChukkerTV also features team challenges and instant replay which made their debut at Grand Champions in January, 2014.
Awards table for the John T. Oxley Memorial Tournament.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its‘ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its‘ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
By Sharon Robb
Photos by Candace Ferreira for ChukkerTV