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BILBAO BLASTS 9 MORE GOALS TO PROPEL FROSS & FROSS TO THE TOURNAMENT TITLE

Nov 21, 2016 12:58 PM

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The Villages Health 8-Goal Tournament Champions: Fross & Fross - Laura Wilson, Paige McCabe, Herndon Radcliff, Francisco Bilbao
The Villages Health 8-Goal Tournament Champions: Fross & Fross - Laura Wilson, Paige McCabe, Herndon Radcliff (Team USPA), Francisco Bilbao

Written by Cody Hills for The Villages Daily Sun

Just call it the “Frankie Bilbao Show.” That’s essentially what the two most recent weekends at The Villages Polo Club have turned into, following yet another incredible performance from Francisco Bilbao. The Argentinean native dazzled the crowd once again by burying nine of the 11 goals for Fross & Fross to help defeat UnitedHealthcare 11-8 in The Villages Health 8-Goal Tournament Championship on Sunday.Bilbao’s scoring outburst was the third straight game of nine goals for the five-goal handicap player –tallying nine in both Friday’s preliminary action and last Saturday’s tournament championship—quickly putting the polo grounds of The Villages in a special place of the recently turned U.S. citizen’s heart.

Bilbao’s scoring outburst was the third straight game of nine goals for the five-goal handicap player –tallying nine in both Friday’s preliminary action and last Saturday’s tournament championship—quickly putting the polo grounds of The Villages in a special place of the recently turned U.S. citizen’s heart.

Most Valuable Player Francisco Bilbao of Fross & Fross
Most Valuable Player Francisco Bilbao of Fross & Fross.

“I’m honestly loving playing here right now,” Bilbao said after the victory. “It doesn’t really get any better than that (today). It’s a feeling we all want –riding to the goal with the ball like that. It’s great being out here and playing like this on these first-class fields.”

Bilbao picked up right where he left off on Friday, as he cracked home the first two goals of Sunday’s championship match within the first three minutes of the opening chukker. Two quick response tallies by UnitedHealthcare’s Casey Hoskins tied the match after the first period of play—though the early deadlock would be the closest they’d come to victory on the day.

Fross & Fross' Herndon Radcliff (Team USPA) and Charlie Cendoya of City Fire race to the ball in a preliminary tournament match.
Fross & Fross' Herndon Radcliff (Team USPA) and Charlie Cendoya of City Fire race to the ball in a preliminary tournament match.

Bilbao’s smoking hot mallet struck four more goals before halftime, pushing Fross & Fross out to an 8-3 lead at the divot-stomping intermission. Francisco Llosa slapped home four goals of his own in the second half of action—accounting for the majority of the six goals scored in the second half by UnitedHealthcare—in an attempt to coerce his team back into the match. But it wasn’t enough to bridge the gap created by Bilbao, who added on three more strikes after the intermission to seal the deal for Fross & Fross.

The tournament championship was the second straight for the trio of Bilbao, Herndon Radcliff and Paige McCabe—wearing the same colors on consecutive weekends and benefitting from the familiarity of playing together. “Just like in any other sport, you build up that chemistry playing together,” McCabe said. “It gets to the point where you know what they’re going to do on the field and you don’t even really have to say anything to them out there.”

Derek Berg of UnitedHealthcare on a run to goal.
Derek Berg of UnitedHealthcare on a run to goal.

Following the championship match, Bilbao said he plans to return to The Villages Golf Cars 8-Goal Tournament next weekend—the finale of three eight-goal tournaments in the fall season—leaving polo fans in The Villages wondering what type of performance Bilbao will have them witnessing next.

“I don’t even know,” Bilbao said with a laugh. “Consistency is so hard to achieve in polo. You have horses come and go, some weeks you feel better and some weeks your body doesn’t feel as good. So I’ll take whatever good wave is coming my way next.”

Best Playing Pony Rosita played and owned by Fross & Fross' Francisco Bilbao.
Best Playing Pony Rosita played and owned by Fross & Fross' Francisco Bilbao.

All Photos Courtesy of Dave Boege.

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