By Alex Webbe
A USA polo team (Marc Ganzi, Wes Finlayson, Nic Roldan and Mason Wroe) scored wins over Mexico (Alejandro Gonzalez, Mariano Gracida, Julio Gracida and Roberto Gonzalez) and Team USPA (Jared Sheldon, Jesse Bray, Felipe Viana and Jesse Bray) Saturday afternoon to register their third consecutive USPA International Cup victory at the Grand Champions Polo Club.
Presented in a round-robin, three team format this year with a handicap range that would allow the US FIP training team to compete, the tournament level was set at 15-goals, with the US team taking the field at 15-goals while Mexico and Team USPA carried 14-goal team handicaps.
The abbreviated format would spot both Mexico and Team USPA one-half goal by handicap when playing the US squad.
In the opening two chukkers of the round-robin the United States team watched Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez score the opening goal of the game at the 5:40 mark of the first chukker. Julio Gracida added another goal for Mexico, sandwiched between a pair of goals from Nic Roldan. At the end of the first chukker it was all even at 2-2.
Defense was the practice in the second chukker with neither team being able to break through the opponent’s defense for a goal. With just over 90 seconds left in the two-chukker mini-match, Roldan blew through the defenders for the winning goal, 3-2½.
Mexico 5, Team USPA 2
After losing the opening game to the US team, Mexico remained on the field to meet Team USPA.
Team USPA got on the scoreboard first on a great effort by Felipe Viana, 1-0. A second goal by Jared Sheldon had the hard-charging Team USPA in the lead, 2-0. With just over three minutes on the clock, Julio Gracida scored twice, tying the game at 2-2 after the first period.
The second period belonged to Mexico with a pair of goals from Alejandro Gonzalez and a closing penalty conversion from Julio Gracida in the 5-2 win.
USA 2, Team USPA 1½
Both teams were playing fast and hard as the final two chukkers between the US team and Team USPA got underway. Team USPA’s defense was suitably impressive in the opening chukker following the opening goal from the field from Nic Roldan (6:59). For the balance of the period neither team was able to score. The US team led 1 to ½ (by handicap).
Scoring was no easier in the second chukker. Team USPA scored their first goal of the game with over four-and-one-half minutes gone in the second. Jared Sheldon stole the ball deep in the US end of the field for a goal. Team USPA led, 1½ to 1. The US team was trying desperately to get back into the game, with American 8-goaler Nic Roldan flying all over the field. It was Roldan with the final goal of the game with just 1:20 left in regulation time that lifted the US team to the 2-1½ win.
Nic Roldan scored all five of the goals for the US team on the day and was named MVP for his efforts. Vegas, Halo Polo’s 10-year-old Dark Bay received Best Playing Pony honors.