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CASABLANCA OVERCOME DEFENDING CHAMPIONS FOR UNITED STATES ARENA HANDICAP TITLE

Aug 07, 2019 12:53 PM

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Story Courtesy of Aspen Valley Polo Club/Sharon Robb.

2019 United States Arena Handicap Champions: Casablanca - Grant Ganzi, Juan Bollini Jr., Nic Roldan.
2019 United States Arena Handicap Champions: Casablanca - Grant Ganzi, Juan Bollini Jr., Nic Roldan.

Casablanca upset two-time defending champion Flexjet to win the United States Arena Handicap Final on Tuesday, August 6, at Aspen Valley Polo Club in Carbondale, Colorado. Casablanca (Grant Ganzi*, Juan Bollini Jr., Nic Roldan) dominated the game from start-to-finish to win the four-team tournament 16-11 in front of a good local crowd and the USPA Polo Network worldwide audience.

Casablanca's Nic Roldan prepares to take a penalty shot defended by Flexjet's Alejandro Novillo Astrada.
Casablanca's Nic Roldan prepares to take a penalty shot defended by Flexjet's Alejandro Novillo Astrada.

Having won the trophy in 2017 and 2018, Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) was looking for their third consecutive title, but could never mount a consistent offensive attack and was forced to play catch-up for most of the game against Casablanca’s defense.

Leading 2-1 after the opening chukker, Casablanca racked up an impressive seven goals to Flexjet’s single goal in the second chukker for a 9-2 lead at halftime. Scoring five goals within the first two chukkers, Roldan, one of the highest-rated arena players, scored a game-high seven goals including a two pointer.

Casablanca's Grant Ganzi reaches for the hook on Alejandro Novillo Astrada as he breaks away towards goal.
Casablanca's Grant Ganzi reaches for the hook on Alejandro Novillo Astrada as he breaks away towards goal.

Retaliating in the second half, Flexjet outscored Casablanca in both the third and fourth chukkers, but could not make up the deficit by the final horn. Working together as a cohesive team to seize the victory, Casablanca claimed the 2019 title 16-11.

Casablanca's Grant Ganzi was awarded Most Valuable Player.
Casablanca's Grant Ganzi was awarded Most Valuable Player.

Most Valuable Player was awarded to Grant Ganzi. Ganzi was Casablanca's second-leading scorer with six total goals including a two-pointer and Penalty 4 conversion.

Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Kit Kat, a 7-year-old bay mare played by Astrada in the fourth chukker. She is owned by the Ganzi’s Wellington-based Santa Rita Polo Farm.

*Grant Ganzi is a member of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.

All photos courtesy of ©Candace Ferreira/Aspen Valley Polo Club.

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