Oct 12, 2020 5:38 PM
Played at Great Meadow Polo Club in The Plains, Virginia for the first time, the National Arena Challenge Cup showcased two competitive days of six-goal arena polo action, concluding with the final between Celebrity Cruises/Hotels at Sea (Tareq Salahi, Matthew Potter, John Gobin) and Mystique Jewelers (Christopher Holder, Kelly Wells, Brennan Wells) on Saturday, October 10. Boasting the only woman on the tournament roster, Mystique Jewelers featured mother and son duo Kelly and Brennan Wells. Fighting back from a six-goal deficit, Celebrity Cruises/Hotels at Sea dominated the second half, led by a twelve-goal performance from Gobin to emerge victorious and claim the title.
“We didn’t panic after the first half and kept adjusting our strategy until we found something that clicked. Tareq did a great job creating space and assisting offensively, while I tried to create separation between John and the defenders so he could be free to score.” – Matthew Potter of Celebrity Cruises/Hotels at Sea
A high-scoring first chukker resulted in Mystique Jewelers gaining the early lead. Kelly and Brennan Wells quickly accumulated two field goals and a two-pointer between them to open the game for Mystique Jewelers. Relying on the experience of their 6-goaler Gobin, Celebrity Cruises/Hotels at Sea responded with back-to-back goals, ending the first in favor of Mystique Jewelers 5-2. An offensive battle ensued between Brennan Wells and Gobin in the second, with Wells securing his second two-pointer, his fifth goal of the day. Picking up three goals, Gobin was responsible for all five of his team’s goals in the first half. Celebrity Cruises/Hotels at Sea faced a difficult task entering the second half as Mystique Jewelers led 9-5.
In a stunning turn of events, the strong Mystique Jewelers offense was held scoreless in the third chukker while Celebrity Cruises/Hotels at Sea rallied to score five unanswered goals. Gobin continued to drive Celebrity Cruises/Hotels at Sea offensively and Salahi’s first goal gave the team their first lead at the end of the third 10-9. “We just continued to fight and we didn’t give up,” Gobin said. “Mystique Jewelers was very strong and demonstrated amazing teamwork.” The pressure increased entering the final chukker as Mystique Jewelers fought to reclaim the advantage. Trading penalty conversions, Brennan Wells and Gobin tied the scoreboard 11-all with only a few minutes left. Coming through for his team, Gobin scored two consecutive goals to secure the 13-11 victory and $6,000 in prize money for Celebrity Cruises/Hotels at Sea. As the runners-up Mystique Jewelers took home $4,000 offered as part of the USPA Tournament Prize Money Matching Program.
“It was a hard-fought final trying to shut their offense down and it took us two chukkers to learn and understand their strategy,” said team captain Salahi. “I knew we had to change our strategy. We changed who we marked in the second half and we pivoted from a traditional offense to a zone defense which worked perfectly in our favor.”
Scoring nine goals for Mystique Jewelers, Brennan Wells was awarded Most Valuable Player. “Despite the results I felt like I did a good job reading the field and understanding when I had time to control the ball and when I should release it to my teammates,” Wells said. “We had a solid game plan and I couldn’t have been happier to share the field with my mom [Kelly Wells].” Although they haven't had the opportunity to play together very much, Kelly and Brennan do communicate well which helped their team dynamic. "He is so driven and works so hard and he helps me to be focused by being calm and really prepared," Wells said about her son. He told me 'Don't worry mom I’ll take John Gobin' which was nice and Brennan is incredible to play with!"
Best Playing Pony was awarded to 10-year-old grey mare Chichi, owned by George Krabbe and played by John Gobin in the fourth chukker. Purchased by Krabbe from Kris Kampsen in the spring, she previously played high-goal polo. “She has a lot of heart and gives you everything on the field,” Gobin shared.
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More