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21

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SANTA BARBARA BESTS FORMER INTERCOLLEGIATE/INTERSCHOLASTIC ALUMNI TO CAPTURE THE FELDMAN CUP

Sep 21, 2020 9:04 PM

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2020 USPA National I/I Alumni Tournament - The Feldman Cup Champions: Santa Barbara - Jeff Scheraga, Emma Blackwood, Seamus Tuohy. ©Janelle Ross
2020 USPA National I/I Alumni Tournament - The Feldman Cup Champions: Santa Barbara - Jeff Scheraga, Emma Blackwood, Seamus Tuohy.

The seventh edition of the National Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) Alumni Tournament, the Feldman Cup, was a weekend of fast-paced, round-robin play at Central Coast Polo Club in Los Osos, California, between three competitive I/I alumni teams ready to relive the glory days. Consisting of players with a variety of I/I backgrounds, the two days of play on Saturday, September 19, and Sunday, September 20, resulted in a dominant Feldman Cup victory for Santa Barbara, capturing the win over both the Mustang Managers and the Trojan Frogs with decisive victories.

Santa Barbara's Jeff Scheraga, a former University of Connecticut intercollegiate polo player, on a breakaway down the boards.
Santa Barbara's Jeff Scheraga, a former University of Connecticut intercollegiate polo player, on a breakaway down the boards.

“This was my first time ever playing in the Feldman Cup, I’ve always wanted to but never had the opportunity. Now I’m at the point in my career where I can take some time away and go compete which is really satisfying. Also, I played against Stan Feldman in college so I really wanted my name on his trophy and we got it done!”  – Jeff Scheraga

A hard-fought opening two chukkers between Santa Barbara (Jeff Scheraga, Seamus Tuohy, Emma Blackwood) and Mustang Managers (Megan Judge, Maggie Papka, Trista Noland) resulted in Santa Barbara taking an early two-goal lead off the mallets of Scheraga and Tuohy. Foul trouble prevented Santa Barbara from extending their lead, including a Penalty 5 that was sent through by Judge for a two-point goal, tying the game at 2-all. A quick attack from Santa Barbara in the second chukker caught Mustang Managers off guard, as field goals from Scheraga and Blackwood extended their lead 4-2 moving into the second day of play.

Mustang Managers Megan Judge
Most Valuable Player, Megan Judge of Mustang Managers, is the current I/I Central Coast Polo Club and Cal Poly coach and former intercollegiate Cal Poly alumna.

In the most impressive two-chukker stretch of the tournament, Santa Barbara made no mistakes against Trojan Frogs (Danielle Travis, Tyler Lindberg, Alison Smith, Eric Schloss*) on both sides of the ball, led by the play of Scheraga. Scoring six goals in the first chukker, Scheraga was seemingly everywhere, pushing his team’s lead 8-0. Continuing to build on their momentum, Santa Barbara held Trojan Frogs off the scoresheet while receiving three goals from Tuohy to finish with a dominant 13-0 lead and cement their status as the team to beat.

Mustang Managers and Trojan Frogs battled to keep their hopes alive, needing a victory to match Santa Barbara, but it was Mustang Managers who used a well-balanced offense to race into the lead. Two goals each from Papka and Judge contributed to a five-goal opening chukker in favor of Mustang Managers, while Travis answered to put Trojan Frogs on the board. Trading goals, Mustang Managers maintained their four-goal lead until a Penalty 1 extended their lead further ending the first day of play 8-3.

Trojan Frogs Danielle Travis
Trojan Frog's Danielle Travis flew from Hawaii to participate in the event.

Trojan Frogs saw their title chances disappear on day two after falling to both Mustang Managers and Santa Barbara. Fighting to keep pace, Trojan Frogs started strong in the third chukker against Mustang managers with two goals from Travis, but slowing down the three-pronged attack of their opponents proved difficult. All three ladies on Mustang Managers contributed at least two goals each over the final two chukkers to cement the victory 16-7. Earlier in the day, Santa Barbara took their astounding 13-0 advantage over Trojan Frogs and managed their lead effectively, leaving little opportunity for Trojan Frogs to mount a comeback. Santa Barbara set-up the deciding game against Mustang Managers to determine the tournament champion.

Mustang Managers: Megan Judge, Maggie Papka, Trista Noland.
Runners-Up Mustang Managers: Megan Judge, Maggie Papka, Trista Noland.

Carrying over the 4-2 score from the first day, the tough competition between Santa Barbara and Mustang Managers continued into the third chukker as both teams marked tightly. Eight combined fouls resulted in just one Penalty 2 conversion for Mustang Mangers’ Noland, but Santa Barbara responded with two field goals, one each from their dynamic duo of Scheraga and Tuohy. With the tournament on the line, Scheraga came through in impressive fashion, scoring a couple of two-point goals as part of a total six-goal scoring final chukker, securing the 12-3 victory and the Feldman Cup title for Santa Barbara.

As a mentor and a coach, Scheraga knows the value of relationships and began to establish the team’s bond well before the actual tournament. “I teamed up with Seamus Tuohy who works for me and who is really learning the game so we were able to talk about polo for a while before this tournament even happened,” Scheraga revealed. “When I found out Emma [Blackwood] was also on our team I didn’t waste any time and I called her to discuss strategy as well. We already had a rapport built before even getting to the tournament. The other thing I believe we did well was take pride in the string of horses that we brought with us,” he added. “I’ve been building this string for years and now I’m happy because we really don’t have a weak horse in the bunch.”

I/I Central Coast Polo Club and California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) coach and former intercollegiate Cal Poly alumna Megan Judge was awarded Most Valuable Player. “This year was very competitive,” Judge said. “I had a big smile on my face the whole time because I enjoy playing with Trista Noland and Maggie Papka. I have coached Trista since she was 13 years old and during high school and Maggie for five years while she was at Cal Poly.”

Best Playing Pony: Flamingo, played by Jeff Scheraga, owned by Lauren Mcintire. ©Janelle Ross
Best Playing Pony: Flamingo, played by Jeff Scheraga, owned by Lauren Mcintire. ©Janelle Ross

Best Playing Pony was presented to 18-year-old Flamingo, played by Jeff Scheraga a former University of Connecticut intercollegiate polo player and the current coach of intercollegiate teams Westmont and University of California – Santa Barbara. “My client Lauren Mcintire purchased him last year as her first horse to learn to play polo. He is a lot of horse for a beginner but she has learned to be a very aggressive player thanks to Flamingo,” Scheraga said. “He’s very large which helps dominate his space on the field, which is even better to have in the arena. Despite his large size he’s also very handy, quick and easy to hit the ball because he sets you up well either going slow or at a full out gallop.”

Horsemanship Award Winner: Emma Blackwood.
Emma Blackwood, a former Southern Methodist University intercollegiate women’s player, received the Horsemanship Award.

Former Southern Methodist University intercollegiate women’s player Emma Blackwood received the Horsemanship Award along with a $100 gift card to The Tackeria. “I participated in the 2016 Feldman Cup, but this is the first time I’ve won,” Blackwood said. “We [Santa Barbara] were able to get the ball out of the throw-in pretty consistently which was definitely a huge help.” The Sportsmanship Award was presented to Tyler Lindberg, a former University of Southern California intercollegiate polo player.

Sportsmanship Award was presented to Tyler Lindberg, a former University of Southern California intercollegiate polo player.
Sportsmanship Award was presented to Tyler Lindberg, a former University of Southern California intercollegiate polo player.

Participating in her third Feldman Cup (2016 and 2014), Judge has continued to compete in this tournament because of the great relationships she has fostered over the years. “I love hanging out with all my friends for the weekend and playing in a fun tournament,” Judge said. “Also getting to know other players from different parts of the country is the best experience. Having Seamus Tuohy and his dad here for the weekend I got to learn a lot about polo in other parts of the country and swap stories.”

*Eric Schloss substituted for Alison Smith on day two of the competition.

All photos courtesy of ©Janelle Ross.

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