Jul 31, 2018 4:14 PM

Klentner Ranch's Remy Du Celliee Muller.
Klentner Ranch's Remy Du Celliee Muller keeps his eye on the ball.

The first two rounds of the three-week long Maserati of Santa Barbara America Cup came to a close with Klentner Ranch leading the pack on a 2-0 record. Each team will play the other four teams in bracket play with the top record advancing straight to the final. The second and third ranked teams will play a mini semifinal for the second position in the final. Farmers & Merchants Bank altered their lineup, adding Tomas Alberdi* and Matt Walker to the roster for Marcos Bignoli and Nachi Viana. Restoration Hardware now has Santi Von Wernich and Iñaki Laprida back from the English season.

Round 1: Klentner Ranch defeated Farmers & Merchants Bank 12-6, Restoration Hardware defeated Sol de Agosto 12-7

Restoration Hardware's Santi Von Wernich sends a neckshot across field.
Restoration Hardware's Santi Von Wernich sends a neckshot across field.

Klentner Ranch hit the ground running for their first matchup of the USPA America Cup against Farmers & Merchants Bank with a solid 12-6 win. “We played with the same team for the past two years and really had figured out our system,” commented Jesse Bray*, “now [with the new team] we have a few games under our belt and we are solidifying our game plan.” Bray’s father, former 7-goal player, Graham Bray has been helping the team prepare for the new tournament. With a no-nonsense attitude, he has helped keep each of the players focused on their job on the field. Mariano Obregon scored six of the team’s goals, with an additional five by Bray and one by Remy Du Celliee Muller*.

Restoration Hardware rode away with a convincing 12-7 victory over Sol de Agosto in the second game of the day. Fouls stymied the first chukker of play for both teams. Laprida then led the charge for Restoration Hardware beginning in the second chukker, scoring three quick goals in addition to a goal from Geronimo Obregon*. With a healthy four-goal lead, Restoration Hardware continued to dominate the middle of the match, holding Sol de Agosto scoreless until the fourth chukker. Nico Escobar helped pull his team forward after halftime, but Restoration Harware continued to capitalize on their scoring momentum through to the last chukker.

Round 2: Sol de Agosto defeated Farmers & Merchants Bank 10-9, Klentner Ranch defeated Lucchese 10-8

Sol De Agosto's Paco De Narvaez carries the ball on the nearside.
Sol De Agosto's Paco De Narvaez pushes the ball on the nearside.

Sol de Agosto overcame their first round loss to Restoration Hardware and came home with a victory over Farmers & Merchants Bank. Paco de Narvaez focused his efforts on creating an early lead, tallying five points for the team in the first four chukkers of play. Two goals by Escobar and a single goal from Adam Snow pushed Sol de Agosto in the lead 8-6 after the fourth chukker. Escobar’s strategy was simple, “my plan was to go out and win! I really focused on going forward and scoring goals today.” Newcomer Alberdi led the scoring effort for Farmers & Merchants Bank with five of the nine goals.

Klentner Ranch tallied their second win of the tournament defeating Lucchese 10-8, and welcomed a new member to the team. Mariano Obregon’s first son was born in Santa Barbara shortly following the match. Muller stood out in the matchup against Lucchese, consistently pulling the team forward and adding two goals to the board. Klentner Ranch pulled ahead by one in the third chukker, but a stagnant fourth chukker left both teams scoreless. Klentner Ranch rallied, with Bray scoring five and Obregon an additional three goals in Klentner Ranch’s second Maserati of Santa Barbara America Cup victory.

*Tomas Alberdi, Jesse Bray, Remy Du Celliee Muller 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.

All photos ©David Lominska