The 2016 Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in California came to an end with an exciting final, in which team Restoration Hardware, including Jason Crowder, Costi Caset, Santi von Wernich and Ben Soleimani, defeated team FMB Too! by 13-9.
Ben Soleimani and his team, Restoration Hardware, were ready to take home the magnificent trophy in their first year back in the United States. Costi Caset and Jason Crowder, two of Soleimani’s teammates, grew up in Santa Barbara and were especially hungry to win this prestigious tournament.
FMB Too! had faced a challenging route to the final. After winning their final game of bracket play, Felipe Vercellino won a shootout to give FMB Too! the final berth in the semifinal round. In the semifinal, FMB Too! edged past Klentner Ranch, placing them in the PCO Final against Restoration Hardware “All four players did their job and it made the difference,” reflected Paco de Narvaez on their semifinal performance. “We all have to work together to win on Sunday.”
“It’s amazing, the biggest win of my life. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. Coming back to where I grew up and winning this tournament,” exclaimed Costi Caset after winning the Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open with an MVP performance.
The stands were filled to capacity and tailgaters delighted in their view of the field. The 2016 Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open was ready to get underway. Camera crews dotted the sidelines and large cameras were aimed at the field for the NBC broadcast of the final, Restoration Hardware vs. FMB Too!
The game started off with a quick burst of momentum for Restoration Hardware, Jason Crowder, rated at six goals easily placed two penalty shots through the uprights. An additional goal from the field by Caset gave them an early lead against FMB Too! Paco de Narvaez put the first goal of the match on the board for FMB Too! Ending the first chukka 3-1 in favour of Restoration Hardware.
FMB Too! tightened up their defence and pushed their offense forward. After scoring three unanswered goals, FMB Too! gained the advantage and a one goal lead over Restoration Hardware, 4-3.
Jason Crowder, with expert accuracy on penalty shooting, tied the score back up with four goals apiece early in the third chukka. A goal from the field by Von Wernich pushed Restoration Hardware up by one goal. Vercellino raced down the field, looking for an opportunity to put his team back on top. Two penalty shots and a goal from the field did just that. FMB Too! sat down for halftime with a hard fought one goal lead.
Restoration Hardware shined in the second half of play. Three penalty goals by Crowder and two goals from the field by Caset went unanswered. The Best Playing Pony of the match “Pancho” made her second appearance of the game in the fourth chukka, giving Caset the legs needed to race past his opposition. Scoring slowed for both teams in the fifth and sixth chukka. FMB Too! Attempted to organise a comeback, but the strong momentum of the Restoration Hardware team did not wane.
Jason Crowder, Costi Caset, Santi von Wernich and Ben Soleimani embraced on the field, celebrating their hard earned victory. Their fifth team member, Adam Snow, beamed with pride as the team rode back to the tent after the final horn. Snow played an integral part in Restoration Hardware’s success. He played on the team during the Silver Cup, then transitioned to being the coach of the team while Von Wernich played his horses in the remainder of the season. It was a team effort both on and off the field. Costi Caset was awarded MVP and his horse, “Pancho” received Best Playing Pony. Curtis Skene presented Lucas Criado with the Skene All Season MVP award.
Photos © David Lominsa/Polographics.com