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ELDORADO CELEBRATES WINTER SEASON WITH WOMEN’S CHALLENGE OPENER

Dec 22, 2020 3:39 PM

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Young Americans Capture Pacific Coast Circuit Women’s Challenge A-Flight

2020 Pacific Coast Circuit Women's Challenge Champions- Design for the People- Audry Persano, Catlin Dix, Mia Bray,Anna Coscia.
2020 Pacific Coast Circuit Women's Challenge A-Flight Champions: Design for the People - Audry Persano, Catlin Dix, Mia Bray,Anna Coscia.

The 2020 Pacific Coast Circuit Women’s Challenge A-Flight, featuring a $2,500.00 USPA bonus to the winners, was contested by three teams in a round-robin format.

M-1 FINANCIAL (16): Malia McCoy 5, Kate Weber 4, Jennifer Luttrell-Benardoni 3, Jennifer Alexy 4.

JC POLO (16): Jemma Contreras 2, Meghan Gracida 3, Erica Gandomcar-Sachs 5, Dayelle Fargey 6.

DESIGN FOR THE PEOPLE (16): Catlin Dix 4, Mia Bray* 5, Anna Coscia 3, Audry Persano* 4.

The tournament was played over two days on Friday, December 18 and Sunday December 20, with points carried over from the first day of competition to the second.

Day one saw JC Polo gain an early advantage over M-1 Financial in the first two chukkers to lead by a count of 3-2 moving into to their Sunday match-up. Fargey with two goals and Gandomcar-Sachs with one accounted for the JC scoring while Weber replied with a pair for M-1.

M-1 stayed up to face Design for the People for chukkers three and four. While Luttrell-Benardoni put M-1 up by one goal after their first chukker, Design for the People’s Persano* and Bray* each counted a goal in the second to take the lead 2-1 going to Sunday.

Design for the People's Anna Coscia followed by Design for the People's Mia Bray and JC Polo's Dayelle Fargey.
Design for the People's Anna Coscia followed by Design for the People's Mia Bray and JC Polo's Dayelle Fargey.

The final two periods of day one therefore, put JC Polo back on the field to play Design for the People and the People grabbed a one-goal buffer in their second Friday match-up on a goal by Dix in the first. JC Polo got even in the second as Gandomcar-Sachs scored her second of the day, but the People came back with three, Persano with one and Bray with a pair, to give Design for the People a strong 4-1 lead.

The first Sunday match pitted JC Polo against M-1 Financial. Scoring was scarce with just one goal for each team by Luttrell-Benardoni and Fargey, which resulted in a win for JC Polo 4-3.

Next, M-1 faced Design for the People. Defensive strategies were strong as scoring remained low, however a goal from Design for the People’s Coscia secured the win 3-1 and two net goals, leaving M-1 out of the running.

Design for the People's Audry Persano hitting a neckshot.
Design for the People's Audry Persano hitting a neckshot.

As a result, the championship was decided in the last two chukkers and Design for the People were in a very enviable spot with a three-goal lead over JC Polo 4-1 after Friday’s play. To win the trophy and the $2,500.00 that would go along with it, Design for the People, with a win and two net goals, would only need to tie JC Polo who also had a win but just one net goal. JC Polo, on the other hand, needed a win.

Fargey scored twice for JC Polo in the opening period to narrow the gap to one 4-3 but Persano, playing a bay gelding and the Best Playing Pony, scored back-to-back goals in the second to regain the three-goal advantage and the 6–3 Pacific Coast Circuit Women’s Challenge win for Design for the People.

Most Valuable Player Audry Persano.
Most Valuable Player Audry Persano.

Persano was awarded the title of Most Valuable Player and Inky, a horse auction rescue with only 20 chukkers under his belt, owned by Dix and played by Persano was selected as the Best Playing Pony.

The Sunny Hale Memorial Horsemanship Award was presented to Judith Baker of the B-Flight runner up Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club.

Best Playing Pony Inky, owned by Catlin Dix and played by Audry Persano.
Best Playing Pony Inky, owned by Catlin Dix and played by Audry Persano.

LA HERRADURA TRIUMPH IN PACIFIC COAST CIRCUIT WOMEN’S CHALLENGE B-FLIGHT

2020 Pacific Coast Circuit Women's Challenge B-Flight Champions: La Herradura - Rose Brownridge, Maggie Papka, Catlin Dix, Dayelle Fargey.
2020 Pacific Coast Circuit Women's Challenge B-Flight Champions: La Herradura - Rose Brownridge, Maggie Papka, Catlin Dix, Dayelle Fargey.

The 12-goal Pacific Coast Circuit Women’s Challenge B-Flight was hosted by Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, California, December 17-20. Five strong teams contended for the trophy including La Herradura, Santa Barbara, Sutter Buttes, Zephyr, and La Fortuna. The elimination games saw Santa Barbara (Judith Baker, Cory Williams, Mia Bray, Melanja Jones) advance to the final with a round-robin victory over Zephyr (Elizabeth Humphreys, Katy Escapite, Kristina Karailieva, Megan Flynn) and Sutter Buttes (Bonnie Magill, Madelyn Cobb, Cybele Jordan, Elise Pardue). La Herradura (Meghan Gracida, Dayelle Fargey, Maggie Papka, Rose Brownridge, Kim Kelly, Catlin Dix) earned their spot by virtue of a single game win over La Fortuna (Elise Bigelow, Shannon Mendez, Caroline Anier, Micaela Saracco).

Santa Barbara's Cory Williams executing a ride off on La Herradura's Catlin Dix.
Santa Barbara's Cory Williams executing a ride off on La Herradura's Catlin Dix.

Due to La Herradura’s Gracida being unable to play in the final, Kelly filled in for the first chukker and Dix substituted in the final three chukkers, rounding out the 12-goal team. Kelly and Williams each scored a goal in the first to tie the scoreboard headed into the second. Gaining momentum, Williams scored back-to-back goals to grab the early advantage. Retaliating with offensive prowess, Fargey secured three consecutive goals giving La Herradura the 4-3 lead which they would not relinquish in the second half.

Fargey opened the third chukker with another goal to extend the lead and double the scoreboard. Jones scored her first goal of the afternoon to come back within one, but Fargey struck once more before the chukker ended. La Herradura entered the fourth chukker up 6-4.

Giving La Herradura their biggest lead of the afternoon, Fargey opened the final chukker with her sixth goal. Santa Barbara’s Jones and Bray each contributed a goal to their tally, but it wouldn’t be enough to secure the win and La Herradura claimed the trophy 7–6.

Most Valuable Player Dayelle Fargey.
Most Valuable Player Dayelle Fargey.

Contributing six of La Herradura’s seven total goals, Fargey was named Most Valuable Player. Flipper, owned by Marcial Socas and played by Williams earned Best Playing Pony honors.

Best Playing Pony Flipper, owned by Marcial Socas and played by Cory Williams.
Best Playing Pony Flipper, owned by Marcial Socas and played by Cory Williams.
Sunny Hale Horsemanship Award winner Judith Baker.
Sunny Hale Horsemanship Award winner Judith Baker.

The prestigious Sunny Hale Horsemanship Award was presented to Judith Baker. The bronze trophy was created in 2017, the year Hale passed, to acknowledge women in polo who display great skills of horsemanship, sportsmanship and special achievements in the sport. Baker was selected as the recipient of this award based on multiple achievements, including her mare Silverada being inducted as one of the newest Horses to Remember. Baker has dedicated much of her life to polo and continues to inspire people both on and off the field. At the age of 77 she is still an incredibly skillful player, playing high levels of women’s polo and other tournaments.

All photos courtesy of ©Kerri Kerley.

*Mia Bray is an active Team USPA member and Audry Persano is a Team USPA alumni. 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.

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