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SOUTHWESTERN CIRCUIT GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR. PULLS OFF ACTION PACKED POLO

May 20, 2022 7:29 PM

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2022 Southwestern Circuit General George S. Patton, Jr. Champions: Horsegate- Nick Stefanakis, Lance Stefanakis, Karl Hilberg, Joss Leufrancois.
2022 Southwestern Circuit General George S. Patton, Jr. Champions: Horsegate- Nick Stefanakis, Lance Stefanakis, Karl Hilberg, Joss Leufrancois.

On Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, the Central Texas Polo Association (CTPA) hosted the Southwestern Circuit General George S. Patton, Jr. at ATX Polo Club in Hempstead, Texas. Benefiting from the USPA's Tournament Support Program (TSP), six teams participated in this two-day single elimination tournament.

The primary goal of this tournament was to replicate the camaraderie and fun polo environment from the winter Texas Arena League. The competitive play on the field was complimented with warm player interactions during the evening asado. Nadir Khan, captain of the Oak Bend Farm team, remarked on the weekend, sharing, “the polo was competitive, with fast up and down play and good sportsmanship all around.”

Dominant offensive play from Lance Stefanakis led Horsegate to a sweep of their round-robin and into the final.
Dominant offensive play from Lance Stefanakis led Horsegate to a sweep of their round-robin and into the final.

The first round robin kicked off early in the morning with hopes of finishing before the anticipated afternoon heat. In the opening game between Rox Stars (Roxy Mounter, Megan Rahlfs, Nacho Estrada, Megan Flynn) and Russo's (Anson Moore, Trey Crea, Jessica Mignone, Andrew Richardson), Rox Stars capitalized on both field and penalty opportunities to secure the one goal win.

The second match featured Russo's taking on Horsegate (Nick Stefanakis, Karl Hilberg, Joss Leufrancois, Lance Stefanakis), where a dominant five goal performance from Lance Stefanakis launched Horsegate to a 6.5-4 victory. The final game had Rox Stars meeting Horsegate, as continuous dexterous play from Lance Stefanakis sealed a second round-robin victory.

Rox Stars' Megan Flynn follows through on the offside foreshot.
Rox Stars' Megan Flynn follows through on the offside foreshot.

The second round robin of the day had Shweiki Media (Lauren Sterr, Gal Shweiki, Mark Urdahl, Ariel Mancebo) taking on Oak Bend Farm (Amanda Massey, Chris Ballard, Fabian Osses, Nadir Khan) and Bar Spur (Wes Alston, Mark Osburn, Tiamo Hudspeth*, Jack Crea). In a match where all three games were closely fought from start to finish, each team won once, where Shweiki Media moved on to face Horsegate in the final based on net goals.

Closing out Saturday, Horsegate hosted an evening asado for the players and their guests. Chris Ballard, a member of the Oak Bend Farm team, shared his appreciation for the social event, saying, “the Saturday evening asado brought together players from Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, further strengthening those relationships and bringing those polo communities closer together.”

In the championship match-up, Sunday's game was a competitive back-and-forth, match but Lance Stefanakis’ ability to generate success from the field and the penalty line for the second consecutive day gave Horsegate an 8.5-6 advantage over Schweiki Media as the final horn blared.

Most Valuable Player Joss Leufrancois, presented by Nick Stefanakis.
Most Valuable Player Joss Leufrancois, presented by Nick Stefanakis.

Most Valuable Player was awarded to Joss Leufrancois and Amanda Massey received the Sportsmanship award. Mariposa, played and owned by Karl Hilberg was named Best Playing Pony. “I bought Mariposa from Horsegate, namely Dr. Mike Heitmann, but it was Lance Stefanakis’ horse." Shared Hilberg, "she is as beautiful playing as she appears and, according to Robin Sanchez (USPA Governor-at-Large), I play one goal better on her than any of my other horses.”

Best Playing Pony Mariposa, played and owned by Karl Hilberg and pictured with Lance Stefanakis.
Best Playing Pony Mariposa, played and owned by Karl Hilberg and pictured with Lance Stefanakis.

ATX Polo Club and the CTPA would like to lend their gratitude to the Horsegate team (Dr. Mike Heitmann, Alice Wombal, Nick Stefanakis, Ariel Mancebo) and the entire army of competitors and contributors for making the tournament a competitive weekend.

*Tiamo Hudspeth is Team USPA alumna. 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 Murrell.

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