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POSITIVITY AND TRUST: A WINNING COMBINATION FOR DEL RANCHO/HUSARIA

Aug 03, 2021 10:18 PM

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2021 Chairman's Cup Champions: Del Rancho/Husaria- David Strouss, Augustus Grotnik, Grace Grotnik, Nachi Viana, Manuel Mazzocchi.
2021 Chairman's Cup Champions: Del Rancho/Husaria - David Strouss, Augustus Grotnik, Grace Grotnik, Nachi Viana, Manuel Mazzocchi.

After rain-soaked postponements and delays, the final of the 8-goal Chairman’s Cup at Myopia Polo Club (South Hamilton, Massachusetts) was finally played on Sunday, August 1, between undefeated Del Rancho/Husaria (David Strouss, Augustus ‘Augie’ Grotnik/Grace Grotnik, Ignacio ‘Nachi’ Viana, Manuel Mazzocchi) and Black Oak (Annie Colloredo-Mansfeld, Carl Bradley “CB” Scherer, Felipe Viana*, Johann Colloredo-Mansfeld). It proved to be a fitting final match-up as the 2020 champions Del Rancho/Black Oak split for 2021, Johann-Colloredo-Mansfeld pitted against his former teammates Nachi Viana, Mazzocchi and Strouss just one year later. Scoring the first four goals of the game set the tone for Del Rancho/Husaria who held off a second half charge from Black Oak. Leading throughout the game, Del Rancho/Husaria completed their undefeated tournament run with an 11-9 triumph.

Del Rancho/Husaria's Manuel Mazzocchi playing the ball in between two Black Oak defenders.
Del Rancho/Husaria's Manuel Mazzocchi playing the ball in between two Black Oak defenders.

Postponing the final on both Friday and Saturday due to weather left an eager Del Rancho/Husaria chomping at the bit to try and capture the Chairman’s Cup title, wasting little time in the first chukker. Nachi Viana and Mazzocchi highlighted Del Rancho/Husaria’s attack with a quick style of play that resulted in two goals each for the duo and a commanding 4-0 lead. Despite being held off the scoreboard in the opening chukker, Black Oak responded with back-to-back goals from Felipe Viana, but younger brother Nachi Viana countered with his third goal as the two Viana brothers led their respective teams offensively, ending the second 5-2 in favor of Del Rancho/Husaria. Continuing to keep their foot on the gas, Del Rancho/Husaria’s Mazzocchi scored the first two goals of the third chukker, extending the lead to five goals as they tried to run away with the final. However, Felipe Viana allowed Black Oak to restore the three-goal difference by halftime, adding his third and fourth goals to trail 7-4.

Black Oak's Felipe Viana reaching for the hook on Del Rancho/Husaria's Augustus Grotnik.
Black Oak's Felipe Viana reaching for the hook on Del Rancho/Husaria's Nachi Viana.

“We started off very strong and had great concentration in the final. I believe our positivity and attitude helped us have an enjoyable and successful game.”  – Nachi Viana

With his teammates working tirelessly around him, Felipe Viana continued to make strong offensive plays in the second half as Black Oak tried to mount a comeback. Two additional goals off the mallet of Felipe Viana in the fourth were matched by two goals from the duo of Nachi Viana and Mazzocchi. In the crucial moment of the match, Del Rancho/Husaria created some distance on the scoreboard, relying on Mazzocchi, who ran forward from the back of the game for two goals in the fifth. Down by four goals with one chukker remaining, Black Oak’s Felipe Viana capped off an exceptional performance, scoring all nine goals for his team, but it wasn’t enough as Del Rancho/Husaria held on to claim the title 11-9 with an undefeated 4-0 record.

Chairman's Cup Finalists Del Rancho/Husaria and Black Oak. Pictured are David Strouss, Augustus Grotnik, Grace Grotnik, Manuel Mazzocchi, Nachi Viana, Carl Bradley Scherer, Felipe Viana, Annie Colloredo Mansfeld, Johan Colloredo-Mansfeld.
Chairman's Cup Finalists Del Rancho/Husaria and Black Oak. Pictured are David Strouss, Augustus Grotnik, Grace Grotnik, Manuel Mazzocchi, Nachi Viana, Carl Bradley Scherer, Felipe Viana, Annie Colloredo-Mansfeld, Johan Colloredo-Mansfeld.

Sealing the victory, the trio of David Strouss, Nachi Viana and Manuel Mazzocchi displayed a consistent chemistry to capture their second consecutive tournament title together after winning the Chairman’s Cup in 2020 with Del Rancho/Black Oak. Also winning the 2019 Chairman’s Cup with Longmeadow (CB Scherer, Estanislao Puch, Reed Miller, Manuel Mazzocchi), Mazzocchi claimed his third tournament title.

“Del Rancho/Husaria benefited from the incredible duo of Nachi Viana and Manuel Mazzocchi along with our two new up-and-coming superstars, Grace and Augie Grotnick, who joined this year allowing us to go undefeated,” Strouss said. “As the final was against a team anchored by Felipe Viana, we came out very strong and fought to hang on to the lead.”

Manuel Mazzocchi was named Most Valuable Player. “I am very happy to win this tournament for the third time in a row!” Mazzocchi exclaimed. “I am good friends with Nachi [Viana] and apart from the trust we have in each other I strongly believe that being positive and determined helped us on the field. Without a doubt playing two consecutive years together makes everything more natural but the key in this final was our attitude. I also want to thank the Grotnik family for the contribution they made to our win.”

Del Rancho/Husaria's Manuel Mazzocchi was named Most Valuable Player.
Del Rancho/Husaria's Manuel Mazzocchi was named Most Valuable Player.

Splitting a position with her brother Augie Grotnik, Grace Grotnik benefitted from playing on a team with more experienced players. “Communication and trust were key components that allowed all of us to work well together,” Grotnik said. “As a newer player at this level I looked to Manu [Mazzocchi] and Nachi [Viana] to help guide me to where I would be most effective for them and the team as a whole. Each player really did their part.”

Named Best Playing Pony of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup, 9-year-old Uruguayan Thoroughbred Lady Rose (Ecclesiastic x Lady Reward) received her second blanket of the tournament, owned and played by Felipe Viana in the fourth chukker. “Lady Rose was purchased by my dad off the track, made by my brother Nachi [Viana] and I finished her.” Viana said. “She’s extremely athletic, very quick in the start and has great stamina. She’s electric and brave to sneak into any play.”

*Felipe Viana is a 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 ©Jacqueline Miller.

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