Nov 06, 2018 11:12 PM

Fross & Fross
2018 Arden's Fine Jewelers Women's Tournament Champions: Fross & Fross (L to R) Malia Bryan, Hope Arellano, Gillian Johnston, pictured with sponsor representatives Victoria Montero, Nedra Townley and Zackariah Montero. (Not pictured - Meghan Okerlund)

Competing in the Arden’s Fine Jewelers Women’s Tournament over the first weekend of November, Fross & Fross (Gillian Johnston, Hope Arellano, Malia Bryan, Meghan Okerlund) and Arden’s Fine Jewelers (Anja Jacobs, Paige McCabe, Courtney Asdourian, Claire Brougham) battled it out over two days for the best overall record. Held at The Villages® Polo Club in The Villages, Florida, the tournament came down to net goals, ultimately crowning Fross & Fross with the A-flight championship 10-7.

Earning a one-goal advantage due to handicap, Fross & Fross faced their opponents for the first four chukker round on Friday, November 2, neither team finding their mark between the goal posts in the first chukker. Working as a solid and cohesive unit, Fross & Fross came alive in the second, creating the opportunity for Arellano to make back-to-back field goals. “Hope is probably one of my favorite people to play with,” Johnston praised. “She is absolutely amazing and makes my job easy. I know if I can get her the ball she is capable of doing all the hard work.” Striking once in the third, Arellano added a third to her tally, Asdourian answering back to pick up the first point for Arden’s Fine Jewelers. Shutting out Arden’s Fine Jewelers yet again in the fourth, Arellano sealed the first tournament win with a final powerful swing of her mallet, scoring all of her team’s goals to end the game 5-1.

action shot
Fross & Fross' Malia Bryan leads the field as she prepares for huge shot.

Returning to the field on Sunday, November 4, with renewed vigor and anticipating their competition’s strong team dynamic and offensive prowess, Arden’s Fine Jewelers was determined to capture the second game. Starting off the scoring for Fross & Fross, Johnston’s opening goal was countered by two from Arden’s Fine Jewelers. Mirroring the scoring in the second, Asdourian’s goal was challenged by two more from Arellano. “An advantage for our team was that Malia, Gillian and I have played together many times and we have played against Meghan Okerlund many times as well,” Arellano said reflectively. “This familiarity allows us to work really well together as a team. I felt that in the second game the other team was more prepared for our game plan.” As the battle continued into the third, each side earned a penalty conversion with Asdourian picking up her second from the field. Moving into the final chukker trailing by one Fross & Fross was still in a comfortable spot leading overall by three net goals. Defending their positions well, Fross & Fross blocked all attempts from the field, but a penalty allowed Brougham to claim an easy shot. Sinking her fourth goal of the day, Arellano’s rapid shots on goal throughout the tournament allowed Fross & Fross to win on net goals 10-7 despite losing the second game.

MVP Hope Arellano
A-Flight MVP Hope Arellano with her proud parents Julio and Meghan Arellano.

Contributing eight total goals to Fross & Fross’ tally, Hope Arellano was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Paige McCabe’s 8-year-old gelding, Frank, who she played in the third chukker of the final match. “I bought him from my barn manager Marcelo Torres, he bought him as a three year old from Francisco Llosa,” McCabe shared.

BPP Frank
Best Playing Pony, Frank, pictured with Nedra Towley, Paige McCabe and lead groom Marcelo Torres.

Having won the 2017 Florida Circuit Women’s Challenge on Bendabout with teammates Arellano and Malia Bryan, Gillian Johnston attributes the time spent playing with the young members in different women’s tournaments to their success as a team. “I can get the long ball to Hope and Malia’s defense makes it all come together,” Johnston said. “Hope is the goal scoring machine and Malia works so hard to keep the opponent away and always plays well. She is a beast on the field. The Villages Polo Club puts on a great tournament, it’s definitely one of our favorites.”

As the director of the polo club and a playing participant, McCabe is excited to see a strong generation of female players coming up in the sport. “I’m thrilled for the future of women’s polo and I can’t wait to see how far Hope, Malia, and the rest of the very talented young women take the sport,” McCabe said. “With the addition of the WIPN Polo calendar I’m confident that those young women will have ample opportunity to play competitive women’s polo year round. The sky is the limit and I am honored to share the field with them and have a front row seat to the action.”

All photos courtesy of ©David Boege.