Feb 28, 2023 8:08 PM
Honoring an American polo icon, the Stephen Orthwein Memorial Cup was awarded as a 2023 Legacy Polo Series tournament, stemming from a USPA initiative to recognize individual memorial tournaments at the medium-goal level to tie the rich history of the sport and create a prestigious series that unites clubs around the country.
Born in 1945, Stephen A. Orthwein’s storied career took him from his young playing days in St. Louis, Missouri, to captain of the Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut) polo team, to a decades-long career as both a professional player and ambassador of the sport, boasting numerous prestigious USPA tournament victories. In the early 80’s, Orthwein became involved with the USPA, serving in various integral roles within the Association to further the development of polo across the country, including President (1988-1991) and Chairman (1991-1995). Following his passing in 2018, Orthwein was awarded a second Hugo Dalmar Trophy by the USPA in recognition of his uncompromising code of conduct on the field and desire to give back to the sport he loved. Orthwein is commemorated in both the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.
Hosted by Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC) in Okeechobee, Florida, Dracarys (Chetan Krishna, Leon Schwencke, Facundo Obregon, Brandon Phillips) and BTA/San Saba (Dawn Jones, KC Krueger, Steve Krueger*, Santiago Zubiaurre) met in the final of the 12-goal USPA-sanctioned tournament. Dracarys got off to a blazing start with offensive contributions from Schwencke and Obregon giving their team a five-goal lead at the half. Limiting BTA/San Saba to just two-goals in four chukkers of play, a late comeback effort from BTA/San Saba was ultimately no match for the lead that Dracarys had accumulated to seal an 11-6 victory.
Striking early, two conversions from Obregon and another two goals in the field from Schwencke set the tone for Dracarys dominant first half. Holding their opponents to just two field goals from Steve Krueger, a three-goal run in the third gave Dracarys a comfortable 7-2 advantage at the break.
Speaking to the success of Dracarys’ defensive efforts, Obregon detailed, “Our game plan more than anything was shutting down Steve Krueger. He’s been playing very well and is the leader of their team, and it was more than anything to get to him from the beginning.” Reflecting on the key to Dracarys’ commanding offensive performance, Schwencke noted the importance of establishing team chemistry, “Me, Chetan, and Brandon, have been playing together in the summer and before that in Argentina. Facu [Obregon] is new to the team, but we’ve always played against or with him in a couple of tournaments. We were able to have lots of team practices to get to know each other and get the rhythm of the team.”
Back on the attack to begin the second half, Phillips added his name to the scoreboard, as Schwencke and Obregon each increased their tally to take a dominant 10-2 lead over BTA/San Saba. Unable to find the goal since the second chukker, BTA/San Saba put together a successful run of their own in the fifth. Shutting out their opponents, Steve and KC Krueger combined for three goals to put pressure on Dracarys. Still maintaining a comfortable five-goal advantage, Schwencke stressed the ability for Dracarys to not let their guard down against the talent and grit of BTA/San Saba, stating, “Their strengths are their counter attacks. They’re a team that can change their pace very quick with one backshot. They play very well between each other—they’re a rough team to play against.”
Putting his third field goal of the game through the posts, Obregon managed to halt BTA/San Saba’s sudden momentum. Despite a successful sixth chukker drive from KC Krueger, Dracarys’ efficient play on both sides of the ball stifled the hopes of a BTA/San Saba comeback, as the fiery team in black and gold secured the Stephen Orthwein Memorial Cup 11-6.
For his contributions as the lead scorer in field goals, Leon Schwencke was named Most Valuable Player. Reflecting on his success, Schwencke noted, “My role on the team was to try and stretch the team to the front, score a couple goals and play a bit more offense. I think with the teammates I had; it was easier to do that job.”
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Facundo Obregon’s seven-year-old Argentine bay mare Yatay Sexy (Davonport x Pearl Jam). “She played quite a bit,” said Obregon, “I played her two or three minutes in the second chukker and then I played her [almost] six minutes in the sixth.” Obregon continued, “She comes from Nacho Figueras and to be honest, she’s super complete—amazing mouth, sides, speed. She has everything.” Reflecting on the overall strength of Dracarys’ horses, Phillips stated, “[Our] horses really helped us play on open running style and were a huge factor throughout the tournament for us.”
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More