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DELEGATE'S CUP

Houston Polo Club - sf

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New Bridge Polo & Country Club - sf

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Thu

Oct

21

DELEGATE'S CUP

Houston Polo Club - sf

9:15 PM UTC

BCI/CW Petroleum

Vintage Polo

Thu

Oct

21

DELEGATE'S CUP

Houston Polo Club - sf

10:15 PM UTC

Bearsden/Plank Companies

Rocking P

Fri

Oct

22

NATIONAL PRESIDENT'S CUP

New Bridge Polo & Country Club - sf

Time TBA

Broken Taco

LBL

Fri

Oct

22

NATIONAL PRESIDENT'S CUP

New Bridge Polo & Country Club - sf

8:00 PM UTC

UN-STA-BLE

Skaneateles

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ARMY WINS INAUGURAL USPA NATIONAL ARENA COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF CUP

Jun 05, 2018 5:22 PM

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2018 USPA National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup winners Army (L to R) SGT Joe England, CPL Zach Grob, Paul Knapp.
2018 USPA National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup Champions: Army - (L to R) SGT Joe England, CPL Zach Grob, Paul Knapp.

The Central Texas Polo Association hosted the first USPA National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup at their Two Wishes facility in Lockhart, Texas, over Memorial Day Weekend. The National (outdoor and arena) Commander-in-Chief Cup tournaments were created in 2017 by the USPA Board of Governors and the USPA Armed Forces Committee to be awarded and played beginning in 2018.

CDR Karl Hilberg with US Flag prior to national anthem ©David Murrell
CDR Karl Hilberg holding the U.S. Flag prior to the national anthem.

Team Rosters

Army (8)
SFC Joe England (A) - U.S. Army
CPL Zach Grob (3) - U.S. Army
SGT Paul Knapp (5) - U.S. Army (Honorable Discharge)

Marine Corps (8)
LtCol Dean Daggett (1) - U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (Retired)
Sgt Chris Jones (3) - U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
Capt Jake Flournoy (4) - U.S. Marine Corps (Honorable Discharge)

Navy (4)
LCDR Mike Yermakov (A) - U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired)
AE3 Alex Jenkins (2) - U.S. Navy
CDR Karl Hilberg (2) - U.S. Navy (Retired)

Air Force (6)
MAJ Mark Gillespie (2) - U.S. Army (Retired)
MAJ Cody Goetz (2) - U.S. Air Force Reserve
SGT Rob Phipps (2) - U.S. Air Force (Honorable Discharge)

SGT Paul Knapp on the ball as Sgt Chris Jones  goes for the hook.
SGT Paul Knapp on the ball as Sgt Chris Jones goes for the hook.

The tournament was played at the 4- to 8-goal level and had four teams representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. All the players were active duty, retired or former military members. Players travelled from all over the country to compete in this inaugural event. As beautiful, warm weather was predicted for both days, excitement built up for the tournament.

Saturday games were between the Army and Air Force followed by the Navy versus Marine Corps. Army flew past the Air Force 19-3 and the Marines sailed passed the Navy 18-14.

LCDR Mike Yermakov hits from goal defended by Maj Cody Goetz.
LCDR Mike Yermakov with a big hit down the arena defended by Maj Cody Goetz.

Sunday morning's consolation match pitted Navy against Air Force. Air Force dominated the first two chukkers leading 7-3 moving into halftime. Once play resumed, Navy was revitalized, scoring five goals. However, Air Force’s Gillespie responded with four of his own including the first two-pointer of the day, ending the third chukker 11-8 in favor of Air Force. Navy continued to rally, Hilberg again scoring a two-pointer and Jenkins adding one more to tie the score with less than a minute remaining. Goetz was able to convert in the final seconds, winning the game 12-11 for Air Force.

CPL Zach Grob defended by LtCol Dean Daggett.
CPL Zach Grob defended by LtCol Dean Daggett.

Army faced the Marine Corps in the Championship Match. Leading the teams was 5-goaler Paul Knapp for Army and 4-goaler Jake Flournoy for the Marines. The first chukker was the highest-scoring of the match as both teams set the tone and battled for the win. First to score was the Marines Corps' LtCol Daggett with a backshot goal. This was closely followed by SGT Knapp scoring from the field to tie the game. Capt Flournoy then scored twice from the field, however, key fouls by Marine Corps allowed SGT Knapp to secure two Penalty 4 conversions to tie up the chukker.

CPL Zach Grob carries the ball on the nearside with Capt Jake Flournoy on his hip.
CPL Zach Grob carries the ball on the nearside with Capt Jake Flournoy on his hip.

Army began the second chukker with a Penalty 3 conversion which was countered by Capt Flournoy to tie the score 4-all. Two Army goals, one each from CPL Grob and SGT Knapp, ended the first half 6-4 in favor of Army. Army dominated the third chukker, SFC England adding his first tally to the scoreboard. Leading 8-4 at the start of the final chukker, Army played strong defense and continued their offensive drive. Two goals from CPL Grob and a one by SFC England widened the Army lead 11-4. Marine Corps refused to surrender and Sgt Jones scored a two-pointer to close the final 11-6 and Army galloped away with the inaugural USPA National Arena Commander-in-Chief Cup title.

AE3 Alex Jenkins receives the Most Valuable Player Award from Sarah Knapp.
AE3 Alex Jenkins received Most Valuable Player, presented by Sarah Knapp.
CPL Zack Grob receives the Sportsmanship Award from Sarah Knapp.
CPL Zack Grob received the Sportsmanship Award, presented by Sarah Knapp.
(L to R) Major Cody Goetz, Paul Knapp, Best Playing Pony Solita, Gretchen Morris, Javier Insua, Anna Lynch.
(L to R) Major Cody Goetz, Paul Knapp, Best Playing Pony Solita, Gretchen Morris, Javier Insua, Anna Lynch.

Most Valuable Player was awarded to AE3 Alex Jenkins and Best Playing Pony was presented to Solita, ridden by Capt Jake Flournoy, MAJ Cody Goetz and SGT Paul Knapp, and owned by Javier Insua. A member of the winning team and a Team USPA alumni, the Sportsmanship Award recipient CPL Zach Grob commented on what made the Army team so successful and the tournament so competitive. “Although most of the players had never met before, there was an immediate sense of camaraderie based around the sport and all having the common experience of military service.” Grob said. “The military forces you to become a team player and these tournaments are perfect examples of how those values translate directly to polo. It makes it obvious as to why polo was so readily adapted by the Armed Forces and used as part of the training cycle.”

All photos ©David Murrell

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