Oct 26, 2020 8:45 PM

2020 Southwestern Circuit Women's Challenge champions - Elite Motion & Performance (L to R) Samantha Rostek, Karson Bizzell, Karl Hilberg, Amanda Massey, Stephanie Colburn. ©David Murrell
2020 Southwestern Circuit Women's Challenge Champions: Elite Motion & Performance - Samantha Rostek, Karson Bizzell, Amanda Massey, Stephanie Colburn, presented by Karl Hilberg.

Representing 12 clubs and three states (California, Oklahoma, Texas), six teams (Elite Motion & Performance, Forty Flowers, Star Ridge Honey, Notorious P.O.N.Y., Ranch Hand, Legends) participated in an action-packed weekend of women’s polo hosted by Central Texas Polo Association (CTPA) and ATX Polo Club at the Two Wishes Polo Club facility in Lockhart, Texas. After a competitive day of round robins on Saturday, October 10, Elite Motion & Performance defeated their opponents while Forty Flowers advanced to Sunday’s final after winning a single player six-round overtime shootout against Legends. Shutting out Forty Flowers (Zoe Lehmer, Lara Semmelmann, Courtney Suess, Wendy Stover) after the first chukker, Elite Motion & Performance (Samantha Rostek, Karson Bizzell, Amanda Massey, Stephanie Colburn [née Massey*]) continued to add to the scoreboard, winning the Southwestern Circuit Women’s Challenge 5-2.

“Our primary goal was to make sure that Wendy Stover was covered throughout the entire game as well as Zoe Lehmer which was no easy task! It was a great opportunity for me personally getting to mark Wendy and seeing firsthand all the things a 4-goaler can do and create.”  – Karson Bizzell

Stephanie Colburn defended by Lauren Sterr. ©David Murrell
Elite Motion & Performance's Stephanie Colburn defended by Lauren Sterr of Notorious P.O.N.Y.

Opening up the championship match with a field goal, Stover rode the offensive momentum of the previous day, having won the shootout for Forty Flowers in the round-robin qualifying game. Colburn quickly retaliated, but Suess’ goal ended the first with Forty Flowers maintaining a narrow lead 2-1. From that point on Elite Motion & Performance increased their defense, blocking their opponents attempts at goal for the remainder of the game. Scoring again for Elite Motion & Performance in the second, Colburn leveled the scoreboard 2-all headed into halftime.

The second half belonged to Elite Motion & Performance as they continued to keep their opponents off the scoreboard. Adding a goal each, Massey and Rostek successfully doubled up the score 4-2 at the end of the third, capitalizing on a penalty conversion. “Whenever my sister Stephanie and I play together it raises my handicap,” Massey said. “We play really well together because I can pass the ball well and play defensively and she has excellent horsemanship and ball control skills so our strengths complement each other.” As the minutes ran out in the final chukker, Colburn struck for the third time securing the win for Elite Motion & Performance 5-2. “I was lucky to be on such a well-balanced team and it was a ton of fun getting to play with my sister, Amanda Massey,” Colburn said.

Elite Motion & Performance, L-R Karson Bizzell, Samantha Rostek, Stephanie Colburn, Amanda Massey. ©David Murrell
Elite Motion & Performance celebrate their win.

“I think our team played really well together, communicated a lot, and had a strong game plan headed into the final,” Bizzell said. “Our lineup was also crucial to our success with our captain Amanda Massey playing the fourth position and supplying the long passes up. Stephanie Colburn did a fantastic job playing in the third position as our playmaker and I played the second position following up forward Samantha Rostek.”

Responsible for three of her team’s five goals, Stephanie Colburn was named Most Valuable Player. “As a team, I would say we did an excellent job executing a rotational strategy, similar to arena polo, and we did a great job adjusting with that rotation,” Colburn said. “Personally, I really focused on not rushing myself throughout the game and to making every play count.” Tess Sabatini of Star Ridge Honey received the Sportsmanship Award.

Elite Motion & Performance's Stephanie Massey on the ball.
Elite Motion & Performance's Stephanie Massey on the ball.

13-year-old bay mare Steely Dame (Purge x Mesabi Maiden), played by Forty Flowers’ Wendy Stover in the first chukker, received Best Playing Pony honors. “I bought her as a four year old off-the-track and she had won $45,000 after 28 starts,” Stover said. “Although she is 16.1hh she is very agile and quick and she will always go whatever speed I ask for without running through the bridle. I have also competed in several hunter championships with her and we recently tried fox hunting too,” Stover added. “She is extremely intelligent.” Steely Dame is also registered with the Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program which recognizes Thoroughbreds who are excelling as polo horses.

Best Playing Pony Steely Dame played by Forty Flowers’ Wendy Stover in the first chukker. Pictured with Karl Hilberg.
Best Playing Pony, Steely Dame, presented by Karl Hilberg and played by Forty Flowers’ Wendy Stover in the first chukker.

All photos ©David Murrell.

*Stephanie Colburn 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.