Jun 17, 2016 4:12 PM

uspa houston national youth tournament polo

Incoming thunderstorms and a record-breaking season of rain could not stop the Houston Polo Club from hosting their annual National Youth Tournament Series Qualifier. Sixteen young players came out for the advanced NYTS level, but there were over thirty other young players competing in the lower levels throughout the weekend.

In the first NYTS Game of the 2016 Houston Qualifier, Horsegate defeated Land Rover. Out of the first bowl-in Horsegate took an early and commanding lead after two quick, goals from Courtney Price. A goal Harrison Azzaro put Land Rover on the board. Some quick teamwork kept Horsegate from scoring any more goals in the first half. After halftime, Horsegate demonstrated top team plays and team communication, and pulled ahead with three more goals from Sloan Stefanakis and Courtney Price to end the game 5-1 over Land Rover, earning their trip to the Finals.

uspa houston national youth tournament polo
Winners: L-R Courtney Price, Joanie Jackson, Steve Armour, Madison Lange, Sloan Stefanakis

Before the second game could get underway, clouds rolled in and the dreaded rain was back. After an enthusiastic rain dance from KC Krueger and Pam Mudra (along with a field change) the game was underway and Maida's faced off against Rocking P. Grayson Price was quick to score for Rockin’ P and scored again moments later before being answered by Maida’s April Galindo. Enthusiastic after April’s goal, teammate Anson Moore knocked one through the uprights. Price, determined not to be outdone, scored again for Rockin’ P, leaving them up by one going into the second half. After the half, and some outstanding strategy talks, Cipi Echezzarreta found his stride, adding another goal to Maida’s score, but once again Price was on fire and drilled another through the posts for Rocking P. The exchange for the remainder of the game was relentless, with Rockin’ P and Maida’s trading goal for goal until the final horn. The game was tied warranting a shoot-out. Chino Payan came through for Rockin’ P in the clutch and sent the tie-breaking goal between the posts.

Moving into the consolation finals, Maida’s and Land Rover faced off, with all the players still competing for a coveted spot as an All-Star. Over the course of the game, each team had opportunities to shoot on goal, but excitement and adrenaline was high and not one shot was converted into a goal. Coming back after a horse change, Maida’s hit their stride and quickly made a goal. Anson Moore and teammate Echezarreta scored an additional two goals. Azzaro was eager not to be outdone, and put Land Rover’s first two goals on the board before the chukker was over. After half-time, the game was in Land Rover’s favor. Maida’s tried, but could not defend against the teamwork put forward by Land Rover. The Land Rover team added three more goals before the game was over and ended the game ahead by two goals over Maida’s.

uspa houston national youth tournament polo
All Stars: L-R Courtney Price, Sloan Stefanakis, Chino Payan, Anson Moore, Cipi Echezarreta
(Grayson Price- not pictured)

Due to an unfortunate change in weather patterns on Sunday morning, the finals were moved to Monday evening. As a result of the rescheduled match, Rockin’ P’s Captain, Grayson Price, was unavailable to play, and Anson Moore had to step in on his behalf. Both teams took to the field with a vengeance and Rockin’ P wasted no time, with Chino Payan scoring quickly and effortlessly for Rockin’ P. Horsegate answered, with Madison Lange scoring for Horsegate. The second chukker was a game changer with outstanding teamwork from the entire Horsegate team. They added three goals to their score and kept Rockin’ P at bay to end the half ahead, 4-1. Trying to keep up with the Horsegate momentum, Anson Moore added another goal, but Rockin’ P could not bridge the gap before Horesgate scored two more goals from the field to end the chukker ahead 6-2. In the fourth, Horsegate added one more to their score, but some quick work from Grace Mudra seconds before the closing horn added yet another goal for Rockin’ P. This goal could not bridge the gap and Horsegate won the 2016 Houston NYTS Qualifier.

Joanie Jackson
Madison Lange
Courtney Price
Sloan Stefanakis

Rockin’ P
Hollis Hightower
Grace Mudra
Chino Payan
Grayson Price

Land Rover
Minerva Lemesoff*
Madi Outhier
Enrique Garcia
Harrison Azzaro
*Alt. Lance Stefanakis

Cara Kennedy
April Galindo
Cipriano Echezarreta
Anson Moore

All-Stars: Sloan Stefanakis, Grayson Price, Cipirano Echezareta, Chino Payan, Courtney Price, Anson Moore