May 16, 2023 5:55 PM
The Pacific Coast Arena League (PCAL) held its first weekend of competition from Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 7, at Lakeside Polo Club (Lakeside, California). Celebrating its twelfth year of storied competition, PCAL has partnered with Casablanca Polo, Aubone Polo Mallets, Patton Legacy Sports, Royal B Threads and U.S. Polo Assn. for the Arena League and End of League Awards. Each game in PCAL awards Most Valuable Player, Sportsmanship and Best Playing Pony honors. These awards combined with points (win, tie, loss) accumulate throughout the season to determine the recipients in the End of League Awards.
Friday’s competition, the newly added 6- to 9-goal High-Goal Flight, featured Can This! (Spencer Hurtt, Alejandro Nordheimer, Chuck Stanislawski) against Lakeside (Ethan Bankhead, Rehan Kumble, Garrett Bankhead). The High-Goal Flight was created as an opportunity for players to compete in a higher level of arena polo before the start of the U.S. Open Arena Polo Championship, which will be hosted by California Polo Club (Los Angeles, California) in December.
Six teams competed for the Pacific Coast Circuit General George S. Patton, Jr., playing round-robin games to decide Sunday’s finalists. Lakeside (Eva Scott, Rehan Kumble, Garrett Bankhead) were victorious in Saturday’s matches to place them in the final against Fawkes Polo (Andy Schnoebelen, Ian Schnoebelen, Marc Schnoebelen, Maia Schnoebelen). Featuring fast and open play, Lakeside came out on top with a 13-11 victory. Best Playing Pony recipient Ian Schnoebelen expressed, “I love playing against Garrett [Bankhead].” Schnoebelen continued, “What a fun and challenging game [and] Vortex was a rockstar. It’s always an honor getting recognition for your horses.”
The Pacific Coast Circuit General George S. Patton, Jr. bronze medal match pitted Faris Wheel (Emma Blackwood, Faris Hanna, Shaun Cornell) against Christian Brothers Construction (Kylie Matthews, Elise Pardue, Ethan Bankhead), with Christian Brothers advancing to the winner’s circle. The A-Flight consolation featured Cinderella Story (David Teater, Sean Cochran, Zach Cobbs, Cinderella von Falkenhausen) versus El Polo Loco (Kelsey Galarza, Luca Abboud, Jennifer Alexy) that ended game winning penalty shot from Abboud for El Polo Loco.
Rehan Kumble flew in from Boston, Massachusetts, to participate in his first PCAL. Competing in three different flights, Kumble made the most of the experience, “Having played in the Texas Arena League [TAL] for the past two years, I had heard about PCAL. Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to play with Garrett [Bankhead] in TAL. He convinced me to come and play the first leg of the PCAL at Lakeside Polo Club. The experience was amazing, it was a full weekend of competitive polo. This was my first time ever playing arena polo on the west coast. The amazing horses that I had for the tournament made it all the more fun and competitive.”
Kumble added, “The people that I met were so welcoming and wonderful. I’m coming back again for the third leg. I am so glad that TAL and PCAL exist and gives the opportunity of so many players [at] all levels to come together during the same weekend. The best part of the tournament for me was to meet the other players, some of whom I had played against in interscholastic tournaments, and some who I met for the first time.”
The Pacific Coast Circuit Arena Congressional Cup served as the B-Flight. A field of nine teams, the final took place between California Polo Club (Ajay Clark, Jessica Newman, Chuck Stanislawski) and Lakeside (Robert Hasman, Rehan Kumble, Nicole Bankhead), with Lakeside emerging strong and maintaining their lead for a 17-8 win. The bronze medal match featured OC Interscholastic (Sage Slack, Penny Steffens, Davesh Nath, Leigh Bertea) against Goal Diggers (Keith Edwards, Kimberly Foy, Emily Walsh), with Goal Diggers securing the win.
Winner of the Casablanca Polo Most Valuable Player award in the Pacific Coast Circuit Arena Congressional Cup final, Ajay Clark commented, “I couldn’t have asked for a better first PCAL experience! Everyone was warm and welcoming. The polo was fiercely competitive yet ended with smiles and exemplary sportsmanship. I look forward to the next two tournaments this season and many years of participation to come.”
Continuing B-Flight action, Ogre & the Pixies (Matt Corodimas, Allie Bushong, Ashley Simpson), Biscuit in the Basket (Faris Hanna, Alex Jones, Cameron Munteanu, Luca Abboud) and Lakeside Varsity Girls (Jordyn Griffith, Jordan Pearson, Kylie Matthews) faced off. Lakeside Varsity Girls rode away with the victory, sweeping both of their games. Tres Amigas (Helena Csiki, Shira Engel, Ava Abboud) bested Ka Mana Loa (Abby Purdy, Zoey Newton, Nia Soliz) in a crowd-pleasing match that was highlighted by spectators executing the wave.
PCAL veteran Kimberly Foy commented, "Opening PCAL weekend at Lakeside was filled with great people, competitive polo, hilarious announcing, and a good amount of friendly heckling from the crowd! The camaraderie and atmosphere of PCAL always makes it such an inviting and fun tournament to play and watch! [It’s] a great experience every year for us regulars and an approachable tournament to introduce new players and spectators to the sport!"
An opportunity to bring newer players into the sport, C-Flight often provides players their first taste of competitive arena polo, with many of this year’s B-Flight players stepping up from C-Flight. “PCAL was a wonderful and welcoming experience for me as a beginner and first-time tournament player,” said Anna Tegarden, “There are opportunities to be competitive at every level of play. Everyone had a blast, and I can’t wait to do it again!”
C-Flight’s Blossom Force (April Tornillo, Zoey Tornillo, Lindsey Carr) prevailed against (Not) Past Our Prime (Alex Chisholm, Suzette Markel, Anna Tegarden) and Hidden JEMS (Maxine Payne, Jessie Wileman, Ella Molina).
In Saturday’s C-Flight play, Hidden JEMS, Lutz Polo (Murray Lutz, Jacob Lutz, Bethel Lutz) and Poway Polo (Gabby Kraszewski, Dryden Fleming, Tessa McCready) earned wins against Blossom Force and (Not) Past our Prime. Capping off the weekend at Lakeside, Poway Polo defeated Lutz Polo.
Casablanca Polo Most Valuable Player
Luca Abboud (x2)
Aubone Mallets Sportsmanship
Royal B Threads Best Playing Pony
Lobo - played by Jessie Wileman, owned by Shelley Geiler
Macko 5 - played by Garrett Bankhead, owned by George Dill
King Kong – Faris Hanna
Whisper – Kylie Matthews
Smoke – Matt Corodimas
Willy - Jessica Newman
Lucy – played by Emma Blackwood, owned by Katty Wong
Nutmeg – Keith Edwards
Bonita – Abby Purdy (x2)
Plata – played by Maxine Payne, owned by Lakeside Polo
Vortex – Ian Schnoebelen
Alacrana – Jennnifer Alexy
Buttercup – played by Davesh Nath, owned by OC Polo
Gunnar – played by Jordyn Griffith, owned by Lakeside Polo
Frodo – Zoey Tornillo
Crown – played by Tessa McCready, owned by Poway Polo
Adam – Nicole Bankhead
All photos courtesy of @TequilaSunsetsPhotography.
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