Aug 12, 2019 7:22 PM
One by one, challenging and conquering teams throughout bracket play, Farmers & Merchants Bank (FMB) quickly established themselves as the team to beat with a flawless 4-0 record. Taking to the field on Sunday, August 11, in the Farmers & Merchants Bank America Cup Final against Klentner Ranch, Farmers & Merchants Bank held their ground, maintaining the advantage to win the tournament undefeated 10-9 at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria, California.
“FMB is a band of brothers who have dedicated themselves in preparation, focus, and discipline—allowing us the best chance to win. We compete with confidence because we have trust in each other’s abilities. As the team entered the sixth chukker, it was our own ‘Captain America,’ Lucas Escobar, who expressed, ‘this is our chukker, let’s go win.'” – Danny Walker
Earning two goals on handicap from the onset as a 14-goal team, FMB effectively matched their opponents goal for goal throughout the first half to hold onto their initial lead. Launching a swift offensive attack early in the game, Klentner Ranch scored three unanswered field goals, two off the mallet of Geronimo Obregon*, but Felipe Vercellino responded to level the scoreboard at the end of the second 4-all. The third chukker mirroring the second, FMB capitalized with two easy Penalty 2 conversions and a field goal before Klentner Ranch had the opportunity to strike again. Unable to compete with Vercellino’s strong plays, Klentner Ranch trailed at halftime 7-5.
As Klentner Ranch began to slowly close in during the second half, FMB did just enough to keep the lead out of their grasp. Opening the fourth with his second goal of the day, Lucas Escobar was matched by Jesse Bray*, converting his first Penalty 2. Closing the gap to one in the fifth, Klentner Ranch outscored FMB 2-1 as they set their sights on a sixth chukker upset. Marcos Alberdi equalizing the scoreboard 9-all in the final chukker, FMB was dangerously close to losing the lead they had worked so hard to maintain in the final minutes of play. Coming through with the deciding goal, his only of the game, Juan Monteverde stepped up to the challenge. As the pressure mounted and with overtime looming, Monteverde brought home the win with 40 seconds remaining on the clock for a final score of 10-9.
Substituting for injured player Lucas Criado, Monteverde benefitted from the 7-goaler’s advice as team coach. “We were very well organized thanks to Lucas Criado. Every time we had a game we also had a team meeting where we watched our game videos. Lucas stopped every time he saw little details that we didn’t see and that was one of the most important things.”
“Going into the final we all knew if we did our individual jobs we would have a strong chance to win,” Lucas Escobar said. “A large part of our victory was having faith and confidence in each other in every single play. This was truly a dream come true for me and a day I will never forget.”
Responsible for the game-winning shot, Farmers & Merchants Bank’s Juan Monteverde was named Most Valuable Player. “Our team has a really good system in place,” Monteverde commented. “Throughout the tournament Lucas Escobar continued to play better and better as a back. Danny Walker is amazing and always ready in the front. He makes it very easy because every time I was running with the ball I would look up and he already had the men away from me. And of course Pipe Vercellino is a machine, he doesn’t get tired of going and going which makes him successful.”
Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Felipe Vercellino’s Brookshire, an 11-year-old gelding which he played in the third and sixth chukkers. “Brookshire is really strong with a lot of power and very handy on the field,” Vercellino said.
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska/Santa Barbara Polo Club.
*Jesse Bray and Geronimo Obregon are members 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.
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