By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: Nick Tininenko for ChukkerTV
CARBONDALE, CO, August 30, 2021— Tonkawa defeated NetJets by 9-8 in overtime to take the Aspen leg of the World Polo League Triple Crown of Polo.
Yesterday NetJets (Alejandra Foster, Gussie Busch, Nic Roldan, and Nacho Figueres) met Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Marc Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, and Juan Bollini) in the final match of the Triple Crown of Polo.
Gonzalito Pieres gets ready to drive the ball down the field ahead of opponent Nacho Figueras.
Play was off to a blistering start as Nic Roldan took the ball from the throw-in and passed it to Gussie Busch, who put it through the posts only 13 seconds into the first chukker. Both teams demonstrated an appetite for risk, taking long shots early in the game. Busch scored again in the second period, but Gonzalito Pieres converted a Penalty 2 and 3 to end the chukker in a 2-2 tie. In the third period, he converted a Penalty 4 to take the score up to 3, but an answer from Nacho Figueras ended the half in a 3-3 tie.
Tonkawa‘s Jeff Hildebrand prepares to hit the ball out of the air towards goal.
The second half started with Tonkawa commanding the field in the fourth chukker. Pieres was on fire, making an impressive run to goal at 3:29 and another at 2:42, this time with Roldan glued to his hip. Tonkawa frustrated NetJets’ attempts to score, while Marc Ganzi made a spectacular lofted shot to add one more goal just before the horn. Tonkawa started the fifth chukker with an encouraging three goal lead at 6-3, but NetJets fought back hard. Tonkawa’s Ganzi converted a Penalty 2 thirty seconds into the chukker, but that was to be Tonkawa’s only goal. Roldan added a pair of goals for NetJets, including a spectacular lofted shot at 1:08, to narrow Tonkawa’s lead to two goals, ending the period 7-5.
Netjets‘ Nic Roldan gains possession of the play.
In the final chukker, NetJets continued to outscore Tonkawa. At 3:50. Alejandra Foster took the ball downfield, handing it off to Busch for the goal. After another minute of back-and-forth play, Roldan took the ball to goal, drawing NetJets even with Tonkawa at 7 all. The last minute-and-a-half turned into a real nail-biter. Pieres roared past the crowd to score at 1:38, putting Tonkawa back in the lead, but with forty seconds left on the clock, Roldan scored the equalizer that send the match into overtime. It took less than 30 seconds to decide the outcome, with Pieres taking the ball toward the goal on a breakway and Juan Bollini finished the job to give Tonkawa the win at 9-8. Gonzalito Pieres was named MVP. Cruella deVille, ridden by Pieres and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, took Best Playing Pony honors.
Most Valuable Player Gonzalito Pieres.
In the subsidiary Just for the Love of It Cup, Quite on Z (Alicia Siedler, Vinny Sangaline, Felipe Vercillino, and Alejandro Novillo Astrada) met Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Tomas Pieres, Pablo Spinacci, and Horacio Heguy). Alicia Siedler, playing her first-ever match at Aspen Valley, started out on the right foot, scoring the only goal of the chukker. It took almost four minutes of play for Michael Payne put the first goal on the board for Montain Chevrolet, while Vinny Sangaline answered to end the chukker 2-1 for Quite on Z. Horacio Heguy tied the match at 2-2, but Felipe Versillino put Quite on Z back in the lead, ending the chukker 3-2.
Cruella deVille, owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm and ridden by Gonzalito Pieres took Best Playing Pony honors.
Quite on Z got off to a fast start in the second half. Siedler and Sangaline scored consecutive goals, while Mountain Chevrolet couldn’t make it onto the board. The tables were turned in the fifth chukker, with Mountain Chevrolet keeping Z off the board. However, the team continued to play a strong defense and Mountain Chevrolet failed to score from the field, athough Michael Payne converted a Penalty 3 to end the period with Quite on Z leading by 5-3. Both teams were running to no result until Alejandro Novillo Astrada made a run downfield to take the ball to goal at 1:52. Despite a final Penalty 2 conversion by Payne, Quite on Z carried the day with a final score of 6-4. Felipe Versillino was named MVP. Kangarito, a stunning 8-year-old chestnut, was named Best Playing Pony. He is owned by Alicia Siedler and was played by Versillino in the fifth chukker.
Just For The Love Of It winner‘s Quite on Z‘s Vinny Sangaline, Alicia Siedler, Felipe Versillino, and Alejandro Novillo Astrada with the unique trophy designed by world renowned artist Romero Britto.
In the Just for the Fun of It Cup, La Karina (Nacho Badiola, Brian Boyd, Nacho Novillo Astrada, and Stewart Armstrong) took on Rancho Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Sugar Erskine, Toro Ruiz, and Alex Gooding). It was a frustrating first chukker for both teams as neither made it onto the board. Both teams were evenly matched, scoring two goals each. Brian Boyd started the scoring with an answer from Alex Gooding. Paul Foster followed up with a goal, while Sugar Erskine was responsible for the equalizer to end the period 2-2. La Karina finally gained the advantage in the third chukker with a goal from Nacho Novillo Astrada, ending the half 3-2.
Horacio Heguy hooks Phillip Versillino during the Just For The Love of It Subsidiary game.
Novillo Astrada started the scoring in the second half, taking La Karina up to 5 before Foster found the uprights. A goal from Erskine ended the fourth chukker 5-3 for La Karina. Unfortunately for the team in green, that was to be their last goal of the day, as they were unable to score in either the fifth or sixth chukker. Rancho Los Amigos was also unable to score in the fifth chukker, but Toro Ruiz and Alex Gooding each found the goal in the final chukker to end the match in a 5-5 tie.