By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: ChukkerTV
WELLINGTON, FL, February 14, 2021— Casablanca bested Great Oaks by a score of 9-5 while Hawaii Polo Life took down White Birch by 13-11.
Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Barto Castagnola, and Juan Martin Nero) took on Aspen Valley (Dillon Bacon, Toro Ruiz, Nacho Novillo Astrada, and Clemente Zavaleta) yesterday on Grand Champions Field 3. Aspen Valley, with a 24-goal team handicap compared to Casablanca’s 26, started the match with two goals on handicap.
In the first chukker, Barto Castagnola made a charge toward the posts straight out of the throw-in, but the shot went just wide. Play continued fast and open, with both teams shooting on goal but failing to score. At 2:28, Castagnola finally put the ball through and the chukker ended 2-1. Early in the second chukker Grant Ganzi converted on a Penalty 2. Dillon Bacon picked up the ball and put the first non-handicap goal on the board for Aspen Valley and the period ended 3-2 with Aspen Valley in the lead.
At the beginning of the third chukker, Nacho Novillo-Astrada took the ball out of the throw-in and passed it to Toro Ruiz for an easy goal to put Aspen Valley up by two. The lead didn’t last long though. With 6:15 on the clock, Castagnola saw an opening and shot on goal from 80 yards to shave Aspen Valley’s advantage to one. A second goal from Castagnola tied things up at 4-4. With 2:17 left to play, Juan Martin Nero picked up a loose ball and put it between the posts to end the chukker with Casablanca leading 5-4.
The second half began with both teams again playing fast and clean, with few fouls. Juancito Bollini made a fantastic neck shot straight through the center of the goal, but Great Oaks couldn’t get onto the board in the chukker and the period ended with Casablanca leading 6-4. Clem Zavaleta scored, reducing Casabanca’s lead to one, but with seven seconds left on the clock Juancito Bollini ran the ball to goal, ending the chukker with Casablanca again up by two at 7-5.
Play continued to be very fast in the final chukker. Juan Martin Nero found the goal within the first minute of play, and with 2:34 remaining on the clock a smooth rotation from Castagnola to Nero to Grant Ganzi gave Casablanca it’s last goal of the match. Great Oaks couldn’t get past the Casablanca defense to score in the final chukker, and Casablanca prevailed by 9-5.
Later in the day, White Birch (Pier Muller, Facu Llorente, Mariano Aguerre, and Lolo Castagnola) met Hawaii Polo Life (Chris Dawson, Jejo Taranca, Poroto Cambiaso, and Adolfo Cambiaso) at the storied White Birch Farm. Aguerre, Castagnola and Adolfo Cambiaso hadn’t appeared on the field together since their La Dolfina days, so excitement was high. White Birch, with a 23-goal team handicap, started the match with three goals on the board.
Jejo Taranco drew first blood of the day, picking up a pass from Poroto Cambiaso and tapping it through. Chris Dawson found the goal next, chipping away at the White Birch three goal advantage. Facu Llorente scored the first goal from the field for White Birch, followed by a frustrating miss for Lolo Castagnola when the buzzer sounded just as the ball rolled toward the posts. The chukker ended 4-3 with White Birch leading.
In the first minute of the second chukker, Pier Muller picked up the ball, rode off Adolfo Cambiaso and found the goal with a neat neck shot. Play contined back and forth throughout the chukker with neither team able to score. With 23 seconds left on the clock, Adolfo Cambiaso saw his son wide open and fired the ball to Poroto to score. The third chukker was all about Poroto, who scored all four of his team’s goals in the period, including one Penalty 2 conversion. White Birch couldn’t get past the Hawaii Polo Life defense and failed to score, with the half ending 7-5 for Hawaii.
White Birch fought back hard, outscoring Hawaii Polo Life in the fourth chukker. Pier Muller was having a great day, getting past a hook from Adolfo Cambiaso and scoring early in the chukker. Goals from Poroto and Chris Dawson put Hawaii Life back up 10-6, with White Birch clawing their way back with some help from former 10-goalers Lolo Castagnola and Mariano Aguerre to end the period with White Birch only one goal behind at 9-10.
Play was hard and fast in the fifth chukker with neither team able to score from the field. Poroto Cambiaso converted on a Penalty 4, ending the chukker at 11-9 for Hawaii Polo Life. At 6:31, Adolfo Cambiaso scored, putting Hawaii Polo Life ahead 12-9. Any team finding themselves down by 3 going into a sixth chukker against Cambiaso is facing an uphill battle, but White Birch gave it their all. Jejo Taranco scored the final goal of the day to put Hawaii up 13-9. Mariano Aguerre converted a Penalty 3 and scored another goal from the field, but White Birch couldn’t compensate for the lead and went down to Hawaii Polo Life 11-13. Poroto Cambiaso was the high scoring player of the match, with 8 goals to his credit.
Hawaii Polo Life will face off with Seminole Casino for a place in the final, while Casablanca‘s semifinal opponent will be determined by Sunday‘s game winner – Richard Mille or Santa Rita. The All Star Challenge final is scheduled for Saturday February 20, 3pm.
Founded by Grand Champions owners and president Melissa and Marc Ganzi, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL was created to preserve the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the United States. The WPL, boasting 11 tournament-quality fields to play on, will follow the season opening All-Star Challenge with a number of top-level tournaments that will include: Founder’s Cup, Palm Beach Open, Triple Crown of Polo, and Beach Polo World Cup, Miami Beach April 21-25.
The World Polo League attracts the sport’s top players from every corner of the world, including: Australia, Chile, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, an exercise track, five climate controlled tack rooms, a vet room, staff quarters, a guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball and plans to build more in the future.
World Polo League matches will continue to be closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We closely adhere to Florida state and CDC guidelines, and take all measures possible to maintain a safe environment that will allow us to continue playing. We look very forward to the day we can welcome our fans back. In the interim, please visit www.worldpolo.org for more information. Matches can be viewed on www.chukkertv.com
World Polo League 2021 All Star Challenge Schedule
4pm Richard Mille vs Santa Rita
11am Seminole Casino vs Hawaii Polo Life
3p Casablanca vs Winner Game 3
3pm All Star Challenge Final
All Games Live on https://www.chukkertv.com