Story credit: United States Polo Association. Photos ©Marcelo Bianchi.
Undefeated GSA took to the field at the Greenwich Polo Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, for the final of the 2017 East Coast Open (ECO) on Sunday, September 10. Their opponents, powerhouse Audi with only one defeat on their record to GSA in the opening match of the tournament, were not to be underestimated.
The final match mirrored the first, with the addition of Francisco Mera, substitute for injured Nick Manifold who was unable to play following the first game. Boasting remarkably similar stats, it was anyone’s game in this rematch between two dominant teams.
GSA comprised of three young up-and-coming players led by 8-goaler Matias Magrini began the game with a hefty three-goal advantage off of handicap; GSA cumulatively rated at 17 goals against 20-goal Audi. A difficult place to start, Audi hurriedly attempted to even the score, confidently executing team plays but missing the goal on three separate occasions. In an unusual low scoring first two chukkers of play only two goals were made.
Audi’s apparent strategy to slow down the game and control the ball was proving fatal as GSA racked up two unanswered goals in the third; one from Matias Magrini and the other from Toro Ruiz—a beautiful carry of a bouncing ball atop chestnut mare Tanya with a gorgeous nearside finish. Trailing by five at halftime 6-1, Audi was in desperate need of a new game plan.
Audi did not disappoint in the fourth, opening up the game with a long-distance goal by Francisco Mera directly out of the bowl-in. GSA, known for their aggressive style of play, then relinquished several penalties, two of which Audi was able to capitalize to close the gap 6-4.
Mariano Gonzalez having an unfortunate and uncharacteristic day from the penalty line, was finally able to sink his first conversion of the day on dapple gray Knick-Knack. Back on his game, he was able to exploit another Penalty 2 in the fifth as Audi chipped away at the GSA lead. Despite foul complications, GSA would not be subdued, bouncing back with three tremendous field goals.
Matias Magrini backed an incredible pass to son Santino Magrini for a father-son score, while back-to-back goals from Ruiz on bald-faced mare Rosita rocketed them back into a comfortable four-goal lead 9-5.
Valiantly battling for the comeback, Audi dominated the sixth chukker instantly scoring back-to-back goals to bring them within two 9-7. Four minutes remaining in regulation play, Audi suffered a disappointing setback, surrendering a Penalty 3. Ruiz converted to maintain GSA lead by three.
Forging ahead, Audi managed two more field goals to bring them within one, but time ran out and the possibility of overtime was erased as the thirty second horn blew on a 10-9 score. Three members under the age of 21, Magrini senior doused the newly minted East Coast Open Champions in champagne but enjoyed bubbly by himself, as one of the youngest teams in the history of the trophy victoriously raised the Perry Cup.
Matias Magrini was awarded Most Valuable Player for his exceptional defensive play, along with general achievements coaching and mentoring the young team. Machitos Tere, owned and played by Mariano Aguerre in the fifth chukker, received Best Playing Pony honors.
About the United States Polo Association®
The U.S. Polo Association was organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo, coordinating the activities of its Member Clubs and Registered Players, arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions and games, and providing rules, handicaps, and conditions for those tournaments, competitions, and games including the safety and welfare of participants and mounts.
Founded in 1890, the United States Polo Association (USPA) is the national governing body for the sport of polo. USPA is currently comprised of almost 300 member clubs with thousands of individual members, and oversees 40 national tournaments. For more information, please visit uspolo.org.
About Greenwich Polo Club
Established in 1981 by Peter Brant, Greenwich Polo Club is the venue for high-‐goal polo during the summer season in the
U.S. Nestled in the beautiful backcountry of Greenwich, CT and internationally recognized for its rosters of legendary teams and players, Greenwich Polo Club hosts public USPA high-‐goal polo matches on Sundays throughout the summer. For more information about Greenwich Polo Club including, images, player information, and team statistics, please visit greenwichpoloclub.com, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook and Instagram. #GreenwichPolo is the official hashtag.