Apr 24, 2017 8:32 PM
On Sunday, April 23, the USPA Girls’ National Interscholastic Championship Final pitted Garrison Forest School (Emily Wiley, Hannah Reynolds, Lila Bennett, Olivia Reynolds and coach Cindy Halle) against longtime rivals Maryland Polo Club (Sophie Grant, Maddie Grant, Abbie Grant, Catie Stueck, Isabelle Conover and coach Kelly Wells). Hosted by the Virginia Polo Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, Garrison Forest School (GFS) rode into the arena determined to reclaim their title, last won in 2011, from the three-time reigning champion. Thirty seconds into play, Catie Stueck was quick to put the first goal on the board for Maryland. GFS countered with two goals, a field goal from Hannah Reynolds and a penalty 3 conversion by Emily Wiley. The chukker remained close but GFS was able to pull ahead by one 4-3. The speed picked up in the second, both teams playing a strong defensive game. GFS put two more goals on the board while Maryland’s Stueck scored one, allowing GFS to maintain the lead 6-4 at the half.
Entering the third, GFS swiftly and confidently widened the margin 8-4. Maryland’s Maddie Grant answered with two goals, including a beautiful neckshot to goal and a penalty 2 conversion, to end the chukker 10-6 in favor of GFS. An unwavering Maryland came out hard in the fourth determined to close the gap. After two Maryland goals, Sophie Grant, age 13, demonstrated incredible ball-handling skills, turning the ball and passing to sister Maddie Grant, who added another to bring them within one 10-9. GFS’ Lila Bennett countered, carrying the ball down the arena at speed and scoring, to pull ahead by two. Sophie Grant retaliated and Maryland was back in the game.
The score 11-10, Maryland only down by one with less than a minute left, the pressure was on for both teams. GFS fouled directly in front of Maryland’s goal and Maryland was awarded a penalty 1 with less than five seconds in regulation time to tie the score 11-11. Desperate to score the golden goal, Maryland committed a foul out of the line-up on the 15-yard line, resulting in a hit from the spot for GFS with two seconds on the clock. GFS executed the free hit but time ran out, sending the game into an overtime penalty shootout. GFS junior and tournament voted All-Star, Hannah Reynolds, scored the only goal in the shootout, to seize the victory for Garrison Forest School with a final score 12-11.
“After a tough loss at regionals my girls doubled their efforts and focus in the finals,” said Garrison Forest coach Cindy Halle. “They put everything they had into this game. They played this season’s best polo today. I am so glad we were given the opportunity to get the wild card pick from the National Host Tournament Committee. It is a great rivalry between the two teams and it could have gone either way. Hats off to the Maryland team,” Halle continued. The 2016-2017 season marks Halle’s last year as Head Coach at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Maryland. Cindy’s coaching career at GFS started in 1986 where she coached for 11 years. She took a brief hiatus but returned in 2007. “This game was a gift from my team to me. It has been a few years since Garrison has brought a title home and I am so proud to bring one home in my last year,” beamed Halle. Under her direction GFS has garnered eight Girls’ National Interscholastic Championships. “There are so many I/I [Intercollegiate/Interscholastic] alumni who have helped the girls along the way and it is fun to see a lot of the former intercollegiate players come back to help I/I.” Halle has introduced many players to polo and coached countless champions. She asserts that although she will not be coaching at GFS, she will continue to work in polo and contribute to the sport.
All Star winners for the USPA Girls’ National Interscholastic Championship were Maddie Grant (Maryland Polo Club), Sophie Grant (Maryland Polo Club), Hannah Reynolds (Garrison Forest School) and Cory Williams (Central Coast Polo Club/Santa Barbara). Emily Wiley (Garrison Forest School) was awarded the Sportsmanship Award. Best Playing String went to Maryland Polo Club and Infinity (Maryland Polo Club) and Juliet (Maryland Polo Club) tied for Best Playing Pony. Horses were provided by the University of Virginia, Maryland Polo Club, Garrison Forest School and Toronto Polo Club.
All photos © Mike Ryan.
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