Story: United States Polo Association
PHOTOS CREDIT: ©David Lominska/United States Polo Association
Hosted in 2018 at the Black Bears Polo Club in Oxfordshire, England, the 2019 edition of the Junior Westchester Cup was contested on American soil on Saturday, April 20, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Coached by Jared Sheldon, the USA team comprised of Bayne Bossom, Olivia Uechtritz, Lucas Escobar and Timmy Dutta defended their country’s 2018 title, defeating the English team of Ned Hine, Milly Hine, Will Harper and Monte Swain-Grainer 6-4.
An exciting back-and-forth match between USA and England featured an offensive battle between Lucas Escobar and Ned Hine, scoring all the goals for their respective teams in the first half. Foul trouble kept USA off the scoreboard in the opening chukker, resulting in a 1-0 lead for England after Ned Hine converted a Penalty 2.
The possession switching in favor of USA in a dominant second chukker, Escobar’s powerful drive produced three unanswered field goals including an impressive neckshot followed by multiple runs to goal, propelling USA into the lead 3-1. USA rallied against an English team determined to reduce the deficit. As the conclusion of the opening half neared, the Brits relentless pressure ultimately led to Ned Hine’s first field goal of the game, ending the half 3-2 in favor of USA.
Building on their momentum from the end of the second, England launched an offensive attack downfield leading to a Penalty 2 conversion by Ned Hine to equalize the score 3-all. Continuing their fast pace of play, Harper produced an impressive goal off a steal from midfield to push England into the lead 4-3, only to concede a field goal to Bossom before the end of the chukker. The score remained tied inside the final five minutes until a long pass from Dutta fell perfectly in front of goal, resulting in a Penalty 1 awarded to USA and a slim 5-4 lead for the home team. Gaining the edge they needed from the penalty line, Escobar converted a Penalty 4 to seal the victory for USA as they held off England in the final three minutes of the fourth. Claiming the thrilling 6-4 victory, USA earned their second consecutive Junior Westchester Cup.
“I think sticking to the plan and keeping things simple worked well for us today,” USA coach Jared Sheldon reflected. “Playing simple and being disciplined with the man was crucial to our win. We were not tight with the man in the first two chukkers, but once we got that worked out and started opening up our knock ins it all started to click.”
Scoring four of the USA’s total six goals, Lucas Escobar was named Most Valuable Player.
Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Timmy Dutta’s Diamanté, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare he played in the first and fourth chukkers. “It’s an honor and a dream to compete in my sport for my country,” Dutta said. “My teammates, coach, and the organization have been amazing and we did really well. We came out and showed who we are and I’m really proud.”
England’s Milly Hine was honored with the Sportsmanship Award, presented by USPA Chairman Chip Campbell.
The only female representative on the USA team, Olivia Uechtritz discussed the experience of representing the United States. “Considering the amount of time the team had to prepare and figure each other and our horses out I think it went really well!” Uechtritz said. “We had one practice together, one mixed practice, and one day of hitting penalties before the game. It was overall an amazing opportunity and such an honor to be a part of. Polo is everything to me so to be out here is just a dream.”
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 U.S. Polo Assn.
U.S. Polo Assn. is the official brand of the United States Polo Association (USPA), the nonprofit governing body for the sport of polo in the United States founded in 1890, making it one of the oldest sports governing bodies. With a global footprint of $1.7B and worldwide distribution through 1,070 U.S. Polo Assn. stores, department stores, independent retailers and e-commerce, U.S. Polo Assn. offers apparel for men, women and children, as well as accessories, footwear, travel and home goods in 166 countries worldwide. USPA is one of the major sponsors of the GAUNTLET OF POLO.