Aug 18, 2021 7:21 PM

Antelope's Tomas Garcia del Rio attempting to play the ball with Santa Clara's Lucas Escobar in close pursuit.
Antelope's Tomas Garcia del Rio prepares for a buckshot, Santa Clara's Lucas Escobar close behind.

Story courtesy of Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club

The coveted Pacific Coast Open (PCO) began at the Santa Barbara Polo Club (Carpinteria, California) on Sunday, August 15. After two tournaments of high-goal polo, the six 16-goal teams were ready to bring it all to the field for this prized tournament. Since the weekend only included the first round of the PCO, all teams are still in the running to compete in the final on Sunday, August 29.

The PCO kicked off with a matchup between Antelope (Tomas Garcia del Rio, Grant Palmer, Segundo Saravi, Santiago Trotz) and Santa Clara Lucas Escobar*, Luis Escobar, Nico Escobar*, Federico Escobar) highlighted by even play throughout. Antelope managed the first half solely off penalties from Tomas Garcia del Rio. Between brother duo, Nico and Lucas Escobar, Santa Clara made an equal number of goals to finish the half tied 4-all. However, in a low-scoring, defensively focused second half, Antelope managed to pull away just enough to secure a narrow win 8-7.

Santa Clara's Lucas Escobar engaged in a ride-off for ball possession with Antelope's Grant Palmer.
Santa Clara's Lucas Escobar leans into the bump versus Antelope's Grant Palmer.

Klentner Ranch (Jesse Bray*, Jake Klentner*, Justin Klentner, Santiago Toccalino) and Lucchese (Jeff Hall, Kristos "Keko" Magrini*, John Muse, Facundo Obregon) faced off in the afternoon on Field 1. The first chukker had a slow start with just one goal from 16-year-old Magrini for Lucchese. Klentner Ranch took the lead with five goals in the second chukker to bring up the intensity of the game. The first half finished 6-4 in favor of Klentner Ranch. After a riveting halftime chat, Klentner Ranch widened the gap in score with four additional goals in the fourth chukker and no rebuttal from Lucchese. With a miracle comeback effort in the final chukker, especially from Magrini, Lucchese came up with five goals. It was not quite enough, however, and Klentner Ranch walked away with the "W" 13-11.

Lucchese's Facundo Obregon reaching for the hook on Klentner Ranch's Santiago Toccalino.
Lucchese's Facundo Obregon reaching for the hook on Klentner Ranch's Santiago Toccalino.

The last match of the day featured (Ben Soleimani, Tomas Alberdi*, Inaki Laprida, Santiago Wulff) and Farmers & Merchants Bank (Lucas Criado Jr., Lucas Criado Sr., Daniel Walker, Matt Walker) on the U.S. Polo Assn. Stadium Field in front of a large crowd. Maco Llambias substituted for Lucas Criado Jr. on Farmers & Merchants Bank. wasted no time to pull ahead and scored four goals in the first chukker, capitalizing on Farmers & Merchants Bank’s new roster adjustment. Lucas Criado Sr. and team owner Daniel Walker, kept Farmers & Merchants Bank in the game with five combined goals in the second and third chukkers. However, led 8-5 at halftime. The second half mirrored the first and the score difference remained similar, ending in favor of 12-8.'s Santiago Wulff approaches the ball to make a play in the field.'s Santiago Wulff approaches the ball to make a play in the field.

Friday, August 20, Farmers & Merchants Bank will take on Lucchese to start the second round of play, followed by Santa Clara against Finally, Klentner Ranch and Antelope will play each other. After this round, another set of matchups will be played to determine the Pacific Coast Open semifinalists.

*Kristos Magrini, Lucas Escobar and Nico Escobar are Active Team USPA members. Jesse Bray is a Graduating Team USPA Member and Jacob Klentner and Tomas Alberdi are 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.

All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.