The Plaid Horse defeated Pony Express 6-5 in overtime in the Jimmer Newman Memorial at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). Joaquin Panelo was named Most Valuable Player, and Matias Gonzalez received the Nelly R. Loeb Sportsmanship Award. Bonita, played by Christian Weisz in the second chukker, was named Best Playing Pony.
The Plaid Horse Pony Express
Jack McLean Benji Daniels
Christian Weisz Justin Daniels
Trevor Niznik Matias Gonzalez
Joaquin Panelo Matt Cohen
The game took off to a running start out of the first throw-in, with both teams jockeying for control of the ball. The first goal came on a penalty three by Panelo. He rode up to the penalty line with confidence and put The Plaid Horse on the board 1-0. Speed was the name of the game as the teams battled it out, and there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the crowd was watching the next generation of American high-goal polo. Jack McLean converted a penalty shot to give The Plaid Horse a two-point lead at the end of the first chukker.
Pony Express came out firing in the second chukker with a goal by Justin Daniels that began to close the gap. His second goal in the evenly matched game tied the score 2-all. Christian Weisz threaded the needle to pull The Plaid Horse ahead by one, but its lead was short-lived. Matt Cohen quickly picked up the ball in the next play and drove it in to score, tying the game again. Weisz made a stunning run on Bonita to score and end the half 4-3.
The third chukker played out as both teams left it all on the field, making huge runs and demonstrating their ball-handling abilities. Close to the end of the chukker Panelo tapped in a goal in tight traffic, making the score 5-3 to put The Plaid Horse ahead by two.
Daniels converted early in the fourth chukker to tighten the gap to 5-4, making overtime look like a real possibility. After a wide penalty shot by Panelo, Daniels converted again to tie the game 5-5. Weis made a heroic run out of the throw-in for a goal attempt, but the shot went wide, sending the game into sudden death overtime.
Panelo took matters into his own hands in overtime, taking the knock-in and rocketing forward in an incredible run up the field. Panelo wove through traffic as his teammates took out defenders, allowing him to continue his high-octane run to goal, ending the chukker only 26 seconds after it began.
Trevor Niznik felt The Plaid Horse team emphasized fun in the game. "We just wanted to go have fun and hit the ball and play typical polo," he said. "We had Joaquin stay back, and he took the knock-ins. We sent Jack and Christian up front. I just kind of hovered in the middle for the loose balls, and everything kind of worked our way."
Christian Weisz thought it all came down to luck. "Both teams played really well, in my opinion," he said. "It could have gone both ways. We just got a lucky break at the end and ended up making it happen."
The Polo Training Foundation (PTF) Junior Championship continues April 17 at 4 p.m. at IPC, with Grand Champions taking on 7chukkerpolo.com in the George Oliver Memorial.
International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts:
Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.
Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.
Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion. Designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.
Herbie Pennell Cup - 20 Goal
Jan. 1 - 4, 2015
Joe Barry Memorial Cup - 20 Goal
Jan. 4 - 25, 2015
Ylvisaker Cup - 20 Goal
Jan. 28 - February 22, 2015
Iglehart Cup - 20 Goal
Feb. 28 - March 8, 2015
USPA C.V. Whitney Cup - 26 Goal
Feb. 15 - March 1, 2015
Piaget USPA Gold Cup® - 26 Goal
March 4 - March 22, 2015
111th U.S. Open Polo Championship® - 26 Goal
March 25 - April 19, 2015