Nov 19, 2019 7:45 PM

2019 National Arena Amateur Cup Champions - Silverado Sharks - Heather Perkins, Mark Osburn, Allie Bushong (527A4549_191117) ©Jim Bremner-USPA web
2019 National Arena Amateur Cup Champions: Silverado Sharks (L to R) Heather Perkins, Mark Osburn, Allie Bushong.

The National Arena Amateur Cup at Orange County Polo Club in Silverado, California, left spectators on the edge of their seats when Straight Shooters (Ashley Owen, Davey Kral, Jasmine Lu) and the Silverado Sharks (Heather Perkins, Mark Osburn, Allie Bushong) went into a penalty shootout to determine the champion. Little separating the two teams, it was Silverado Sharks that emerged the victor, capturing a sensational 15-14 win in what proved to be an exceptional weekend of polo with players traveling from as far as Texas to compete.

The state-of-the-art facilities at Orange Country Polo Club allow for some great polo spectating.
The state-of-the-art facilities at Orange Country Polo Club allow for great polo spectating.

“This was my first time playing polo in California. My husband and I stayed in Laguna Beach and commuted 30 minutes to get to the Orange County Polo Club which was a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility. The polo was as good as the company and the club was very warm and welcoming.”  – Ashley Owen

The game began at a lightning quick pace with a ten-goal first chukker that resulted in Silverado Sharks holding a slim 6-4 lead. Receiving contributions from all three players, the Silverado Sharks were led by three goals from Heather Perkins, while Straight Shooters’ Ashley Owen responded with three goals of her own. The balance on the field was evident with all six players finding the scoresheet within the first two chukkers. A clean match, the whistle was rarely used in the first half, leaving the two teams to battle it out in open play. Mark Osburn and Jasmine Lu highlighted the second chukker by scoring three goals each for their respective teams, while Straight Shooters edged closer on Owen’s fourth goal of the game to narrowly trail 9-8 at halftime.

Silverado Sharks Allie Bushong and Straight Shooters Jasmine Lu
Silverado Sharks Mark Osburn and Straight Shooters' Ashley Owen battle for possession.

“Over all the experience and the facility was awesome. The people were nice, George Dill’s horses were really good, and staying in Laguna Beach was also great! There were plenty of good eats and I had a wonderful weekend with my lovely bride!”  – Mark Osburn

Silverado Sharks' Heather Perkins keeps her eye on the ball, Straight Shooters' Ashley Owen in pursuit.
Silverado Sharks' Heather Perkins keeps her eye on the ball, Straight Shooters' Ashley Owen in pursuit.

Consecutive goals from Osburn to begin the second half pushed Silverado Sharks into a three-goal lead for the fourth time in the game, Straight Shooters were unwilling to let their opponent pull away however, responding each time with a run of their own. Owen brought her team all the way back into an 11-all tie behind her fifth and sixth goals of the game in the third. Osburn returned the lead to Silverado Sharks to begin the fourth chukker, but a crucial stretch of the game changed the momentum in an instant. Three unanswered goals from Straight Shooters, one each from Owen, Kral and Lu gave them their first lead since the first chukker, leaving Silverado Sharks facing a two-goal deficit with time running out. The high-pressure situation resulted in fouls on both sides. Osburn brought the game within one, but it was Allie Bushong that converted the penalty to tie the game 14-all to send the game into a penalty shootout. Stepping up again, Bushong scored the deciding penalty which gave Silverado Sharks the dramatic 15-14 victory in a memorable final.

Sportsmanship Award - Jasmine Lu, presented by Orange County Polo Club President Denny Geiler (527A4555_191117) ©Jim Bremner-USPA web
The Sportsmanship Award was awarded to Jasmine Lu, presented by Orange County Polo Club President Denny Geiler.
Most Valuable Player - Ashley Owen, presented by Orange County Polo Club Denny Geiler (527A4558_191117) ©Jim Bremner-USPA
Most Valuable Player was awarded to Ashley Owen, presented by Orange County Polo Club's Denny Geiler.

“The facilities are immaculate, every detail was taken into consideration and it has been an incredible club to play really great polo,” Owen said after capturing Most Valuable Player honors, while the Sportsmanship Award went to 15-year-old Jasmine Lu. Heather Perkins’ second chukker pony Cake owned by Shelley Geller took home the Best Playing Pony blanket to cap off the weekend. A nine-year-old off-the-track-thoroughbred mare, she was purchased from Karen Reese. “She is very fast and powerful with a great bump,” said Perkins. “She got her name because she loves to eat cake, donuts, you name it!” continued Perkins with a laugh.

BPP - Cake, played by Heather Perkins, owned by Shelley Geiler (527A4596_191117) ©Jim Bremner-USPA web
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Cake, played by Heather Perkins and owned by Shelley Geiler.

Other competitors complimented the well-run event, including Off the Wall’s Nicole Bankhead, “what an incredible experience and opportunity to participate in the National Arena Amateur Cup! It was fun getting to know and play with different players throughout the U.S. and it was also a unique opportunity to be placed on teams. It challenged me to learn to play a different position and grow my personal game.”

All photos courtesy of ©Jim Bremner.



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