Carroll, White Birch Advance To Title Game Of Stanford Financial Group
- 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship At International Polo Club Palm
Florida Sentimental favorite Isla Carroll and perennial powerhouse
White Birch each registered dramatic one-goal victories in the semifinals
Thursday to advance to Sundays final of the historic Stanford
Financial Group 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship at the
International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Bensadon scored eight goals to lead Isla Carroll past 2003 finalist
Lechuza 12-11 and 10-goaler Mariano Aguerre scored on a short forehand
35 seconds into overtime to lift three-time finalist White Birch
over Catamount 13-12.
3 p.m. championship game is a rematch of the 1997 title contest
in which Isla Carroll defeated White Birch 10-6.
semifinal games invoked the little-used Penalty 7, forcing three-on-three
polo instead of the normal four-on-four because of injuries caused
by a penalty.
Newman, International Polo Clubs veteran Polo Manager said
he has never seen a day of polo like this.
was done was done by the rules, said Newman. Both teams
accepted the umpires interpretation. You hate to see games this
important be decided by playing three a side, but the team fouled
has that option.
Goodmans Isla Carroll, with 15-time U.S. Open champion Memo
Gracida forced to sit on the sidelines, held off a late rally to
defeat Lechuza in the first semifinal before some 2,000 spectators.
Sebastian Merlos, Lechuzas leading scorer, crashed hard to
the ground as his horse stumbled with 27 seconds left in the first
chukker. Merlos was taken off the field and then Newman, the umpires
and the two teams discussed their options. Lechuza could either
find a substitute for Merlos or choose one of Isla Carrolls
players to sit out.
resumed after a 57-minute delay with three players per side.
Merlos could not continue because he injured an elbow and both shoulders
in the fall, Lechuza chose to put Gracida, a 9-goaler, on the sidelines.
With Isla Carroll at 17 goals, Lechuza substituted 5-goaler Jorge
Rodriguez for 3-goaler Gaston Urturi to raise its handicap to 17
play resumed in the second chukker, Lechuza scored the next two
goals to go ahead 4-2 before Isla Carroll got organized and took
control with three consecutive goals, including a near-side by Sugar
Erskine with 14 seconds left in the first half to give them a 5-4
Carroll steadily built a lead, never allowing Lechuza closer than
two goals, except for the final margin when 10-goaler Pite Merlos
converted a 60-yard penalty with 12 seconds remaining.
a lot more nerve-wracking watching, said Gracida, who spent
most of the game alone near the end line between the goal posts
and team tent, his boots and knee pads still on and a white baseball
hat replacing his familiar yellow helmet. Theres nothing
you can do watching.
Carrolls leading scorer, Pancho Bensadon, who has 36 goals
in six games, praised Gracida.
(Memo) the coach outside the lines and inside the lines, said
Bensadon, who scored a team-high eight goals in the semifinals.
He deserves to win the 100th U.S. Open.
very proud of the team, said Gracida. Weve only
been together for one and a half months and we just clicked. Theres
mutual respect between the players.
Birch and Catamount also invoked the Penalty 7 rule when 3-goaler
Del Walton of White Birch crashed into the sideboards less than
two minutes into the fourth chukker. Walton was knocked out and
slightly injured his shoulder and could not continue.
a substitute could not be found, the game continued with three players
per team after a 19-minute delay. At the beginning of the fifth
chukker, 4-goaler Carlucho Arellano replaced White Birch patron
a better forward than I am, explained Brant, whose team reached
the U.S. Open finals in 1997, 1995 and 1994. But I thought
it might be a mistake because he was coming in cold.
were four ties in the last two chukkers, the final one at 12-12
when White Birchs Lucas Criado scored with 45 seconds left
in the game.
is expected to play in the final as is Brant.
26-goal tournament culminates with the championship match between
Isla Carroll and White Birch Sunday at 3 p.m. There is also a consolation
final between Lechuza and Catamount Saturday at 3 p.m. It is doubtful
that Sebastian Merlos will play.
teams, featuring 10 10-goalers, entered the Stanford Financial Group
U.S. Open Polo Championship, the most prestigious polo tournament
in North America, highlighting the historic inaugural polo season
at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The 26-goal tournament
culminates with the championship match on Sunday at 3 p.m. Fifteen
teams, in 2002, is the record for teams in a U.S. Open.
Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open is being played on the
International Polo Club Palm Beachs five world-class Bermuda-grass
Houston-based Stanford Financial Group, a privately-held global
network of affiliated companies, has signed on as the title sponsor
of the 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship in 2004. Stanfords
family of companies provides international private banking, trust
and brokerage services and real estate development. Currently, the
Stanford organization manages in excess of $17 billion in deposits
and assets, serving clients on six continents. The success of the
group is the result of entrepreneurial spirit and drive spearheaded
by third generation Chairman and CEO R. Allen Stanford.
the high-goal teams on the field, the International Polo Club Palm
Beach has amassed a lineup of prestigious sponsors for the U.S.
Open. The Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open tournament will
feature a different presenting sponsor every Sunday, including Bombardier
Aerospace, Cunard Ltd. and HUMMER, Mitchell-Peck Jewelers, Piaget,
Roderer Estate, Kubota and Roder.
always, there will be a delicious Sunday brunch, catered by The
Breakers, open to the public preceding the featured stadium match,
along with the now traditional and very popular champagne divot
stomp and a post-match awards presentation.
tickets for the U.S. Open tournament Wednesdays semifinals
and Sundays title game range from $15 for general admission
to $40 for terrace lawn seating and are available in advance. For
ticket information for the U.S. Open, please call the club at (561)
204-5687 or visit online at www.internationalpoloclub.com. Tickets
are also available at the gate.
Polo Club Palm Beach is located at 3667 120th Avenue South, between
Pierson Road and Lake Worth Road, in Wellington.