TEXAS TIME: Team effort puts San Saba ahead in OT.

Hope Arellano, the youngest player in the history of the tournament, scored the winning goal to give San Saba a thrilling 6-5 victory over Lockton/ Rocking P in the final of the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship at Houston Polo Club in Houston, Texas on Nov. 12.

  Women’s Open      
 

San Saba:
Hope Arellano
Dawn Jones
Sarah Wiseman
Lia Salvo

Lockton/Rocking P:
Courtney Price (3) /
Athena Malin
Lottie Lamacraft
Hazel Jackson
Kristy Outhier

Team USPA:
Julia Smith
Tiamo Hudspeth
Marissa Wells
Courtney Asdourian

Women’s Handicap
Bearsden:

Carol Farnsworth
Tiamo Hudspeth
Erica Gandomcar-Sachs
Ashlie Manno

EnVen:
Elle Seybold
Lauren Biddle
Catlin Dix
Alexis Ellison

Icon Global:
Emma Tooth
Sarah Wiseman
Malicia Von Fallkenhausen
Olivia Uechtritz

La Herradura:
Meghan Gracida
Courtney Asdourian
Sheila Lequerica
Mia Bray

Listo Polo/Sullivan Group:
Joanie Jackson
Grace Burgert
Marissa Wells
Julia Smith

Overture Tanglewood:
Sarah Prinsloo
Caroline Anier
Cara Kennedy
Kendall Plank

Texas Monthly:
Grace Mudra
Carolyn Stimmel
Lia Salvo
Bridget Price

Woody’s Furs:
Catherine Keen
Jenny Vargas
Kristy Outhier
P. Vargas/ M. Outhier

25
3
6
8
8

24/25

4
5T
8
8

21
5
5
5
6


13
2
5
6
A

12
1
4
4
3

11
2
8
1
A

11
1
6
4
A

10
A
A
5
5

13
3
6
A
4

14
2
4
8
A

14
1
5
8
A

   
         

The tournament, with three teams on the roster, was held from Nov. 7-12 and was played in conjunction with the U.S. Open Women’s handicap, which had eight teams competing.

In the Open, play got underway on Nov. 7 with eventual finalists facing each other: Lockton/Rocking P and San Saba. Lockton took the 8-5 victory. Two days later, Lockton downed Team USPA 9-3. Team USPA was eliminated the next day after falling to San Saba 6-3. The win gave San Saba a second chance with Lockton/Rocking P, this time for the title.

The final chukker was wide open with both teams making breakaways to goal. A beautiful angled backshot from Hazel Jackson put Lockton/Rocking P on the board. San Saba fired back when Lia Salvo converted a penalty shot. The teams traded goals before the first chukker ran out, with the teams tied 2-2.

Fouling slowed down the action in the second chukker. Jackson converted a Penalty 4, sending it over the heads of the opponents and through the uprights for Lockton. San Saba was awarded a Penalty 1 after a dangerous use of the mallet call that left Sarah Wiseman with a shiner. A final goal by Dawn Jones gave San Saba the 4-3 edge at the half.

After the half, the teams continued to battled back and forth, with each sinking a Penalty 3 to leave San Saba with the one-goal advantage, 5-4, going into the fourth chukker. Lockton/Rocking P started the fourth by winning the opening throw-in, with Jackson running straight to goal and leveling the score at 5-all. The teams both tried to gain control but neither team could reach the goal. Both teams missed Penalty 4 opportunities and a near miss by Arellano ended regulation time, sending the game into overtime.

San Saba breathed a sigh of relief after Lottie Lamacraft passed to Jackson but the ball was kicked out of bounds. The ensuing knock-in was San Saba’s opportunity and it seized it with the definition of team play. Wiseman knocked in to Salvo, who bolted towards goal. Thwarted by a hook at the last second, Lockton/Rocking P backed the ball toward center but Jones was there to back it to Arellano, who positioned herself in line with the goal. Arellano pick up the ball and sent it through the uprights for the win.

“I was so lucky to be able to score that winning goal, it meant a lot,” said Arellano. “Having my parents here has been amazing. My mom held a spare and my dad helped coach. It was awesome to have them both here. It was such a great opportunity and I had so much fun.”

Wiseman, who got the winning play started, was at a loss for words, “This team is amazing. We worked so hard today. Rocking P is a great team and they made it really hard work, but I don’t know what to say, it’s unbelievable!”

Team owner Dawn Jones was pleased after the hard-fought win. “It is a real honor to have the win under the San Saba name,” said Jones. “It is a tiny little town under the ‘X’ in Texas and I know our neighbors are going to be pretty excited about it.

“Tommy [Lee Jones] and I are really honored to be here; we love the game of polo. I was happy to be here with Maureen Brennan and Goose Creek a few years ago, but it means so much more under the San Saba name. I have to say again, we all loved Sunny Hale and she was with us last year and would have been on this team today. We all did this for Sunny and it means a lot for San Saba and for Sunny Hale.”

Most Valuable Player was awarded to Lia Salvo for her unparalleled play, leaving everything on the field. It was her first title in the six years she has competed in the tournament, including appearances in three finals.

“I am so excited, I have played this tournament for six years and never won it. I am really happy, this is a big day for me. I love coming to Houston. This is the first time I have worn the San Saba shirt and I am really happy with how the team functioned. I think we went from minus to plus. We didn’t start as well as we wanted, but today all of us did our jobs really well,” said Salvo.

Best Playing Pony Amateur was presented to 9-year-old chestnut mare, Chispita, owned and ridden by Dawn Jones in the second chukker. Best Playing Pony Professional honors were given to 9- year-old black mare, Picasita, ridden by Lia Salvo in the second chukker and owned by Dawn Jones. For the second consecutive year, the high-goal AQHA Top American Quarter Horse was awarded to Law Man’s Reata played and owned by Rocking P Lockton’s Kristy Outhier in the first chukker and presented by vice president of the American Quarter Horse Association, Dr. Jim Heird.

Jackson reflected on the near miss, “To me, I don’t feel like I am on the top of my game just yet. I’ve got so much more to learn and I really appreciated Roberto’s [Gonzalez] help, and everybody’s help from this week.

“I come to Houston every year and I always learn so much in the week that I am here. For all of those girls that are aspiring to go higher and higher, I am still there too. I am still trying to get to the top, and still cannot beat Lia [Salvo], and Wisey [Sarah Wiseman] and Nina [Clarkin] in every tournament, so I am still going to keep working hard.” It was Lamacraft’s first tournament in the U.S. “I absolutely love it here in the U.S. It has been amazing. For me personally, all we have in England is 18- goal for ladies and a few international tournaments, so to be able to play at a higher level of ladies’ polo was fantastic.” When asked why others should come play polo in Houston, she answered simply, “The pitches are great, the horses are amazing and [Texas has] great ribs, so if that doesn’t swing you then I don’t really know what else to say!”

In the U.S. Women’s Handicap, Texas Monthly narrowly defeated La Herradura 6-5. Texas Monthly was led by Lia Salvo with Carolyn Stimmel, Grace Mudra and Bridget Price (largely the same team that won last year) while La Herradura included Courtney Asdourian, Sheila Lequerica, Meghan Gracida and Mia Bray. Salvo was named MVP in this section as well and Dooley, played by Salvo and owned by Mudra, was Best Playing Pony Pro. Best Playing Pony Amateur was Gracida’s Patito Feo. AQHA Best Playing Pony was Lequerica’s Mike.

The eight teams were divided into two brackets and played in a knock-out format with a subsidiary bracket.

The preliminary matches got underway with La Herradura downing EnVen 7½-2; Overture Tanglewood edging Bearsden 5-4; Texas Monthly crushing Woodys’ Fur 6-1 and Listo Polo/Sullivan Group slipping past Icon Global 4½-4. In the semifinals La Herradura edged Overture Tanglewood 3½-3 while Texas Monthly got the best of Listo Polo/Sullivan Group 6-4½. In the semifinals for the subsidiary, Bearsden slipped EnVen 3-2½ while Icon Global downed Woody’s Fur 6-2.

The consolation final had Listo Polo/Sullivan Group edging Overture Tanglewood 5-4, while Bearsden slipped Icon Global 5-4½.

 

by Gwen Rizzo
Photos by Marcos Cerdeira for Pololine, courtesy of USPAGL

 

 

 
 
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