Audi, SD Farms Meet Sunday In World Polo League Palm Beach Open Final At Grand Champions Polo Club
WELLINGTON, Fl., March 23, 2019---On a remarkable day of polo, Audi and SD Farms remained undefeated in semifinal action of the Palm Beach Open Friday at Valiente Polo Farm.
In what promises to be one of the most exciting finals in the young history of the World Polo League, Audi and SD Farms will meet in the battle of the unbeatens Sunday in the championship final at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6) continued its successful tournament run with a thrilling 9-8 victory over Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Diego Cavanagh, 9, Jero Del Carril, 7).
Earlier in the day SD Farms (Sayyu Dantata, 2, Santi Torres, 6, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) continued to dominate its opponents with an 11-8 win over Grand Champions (Grant Ganzi, 3, Juancito Bollini, 4, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Juan Martin Nero, 10).
In the most crowd-pleasing match of the day, Audi put on a dazzling display of grit and determination to hold off a late-charging Colorado team.
"We tried not to foul or give up an easy goal," Roldan said. "We kept our composure like we had the whole game. We were up by three or four early but we knew they were going to come back. They are too good of a team.
"We played great," Roldan said. "We are jelling and have confidence in each other and we're having fun and we feel great. It was a tough game, a lot of running, a wide open game. Now we have the final against another very tough team."
Audi took commanding control in the first half, leading 5-2 early in the second chukker and 7-3 early in the third chukker. Audi contained Colorado for most of the game, not allowing its offense to maintain any consistent threat until the sixth chukker.
With Audi leading, 9-6, after MacDonough converted a 30-yard penalty, Colorado started to rally. Cavanagh scored through a crowd of defenders with 4:20 left to cut Audi's lead to 9-7. After Zubia missed one cut shot to goal, he scored with 3:40 left to trail, 9-8.
Colorado had a chance to tie the game at 3:16 but missed a penalty-four conversion. Audi's relentless defense then went to work with Kampsen turning away a Del Carril scoring attempt in front of the goal. Ganzi and MacDonough then took over to control the ball as time ran out.
"The last three minutes were Holy Moly," Kampsen said. "That was utter determination. No one gave up. The only sigh of relief I had is when I saw Pablo get the ball to Marc and Marc took off running and I said, "Thank God, this is game, thank God."
Kampsen, turning in one of his finest performances, had the play of the game when he broke his mallet head with 4:44 left in the fifth chukker. He turned his mallet around to use the handle and still managed to play tough defense stalling an offensive threat.
"I had nothing else to do," Kampsen said. "I don't know how I stopped him, I just was lucky."
"This is a huge win for us, another dream come true this year for me," said Kampsen, enjoying one of his finest winter seasons of his pro career. "It started with my kid in December. It's been amazing, what a year."
MacDonough scored a game-high six goals for Audi. Ganzi had two goals and Roldan added one.
Del Carril led scoring for Colorado with three goals. Zubia and Cavanagh each had two goals and Jornayvaz added one.
In the first semifinal of the game, SD Farms controlled the tempo of the game and never let Grand Champions into the match.
For Dantata, it will be his first career 26-goal championship final appearance.
"This feels amazing," Dantata said. "My first time in the final. Everything is first time. It's like having a child, your first child. You look forward to it and you are happy when it comes out healthy. It is the happiest moment in the world.
"This is the thrill of my life and playing with the best player in the world is a bonus," Dantata said. "They were a strong team. They are a four-man team just like we are. We just played a more strategy game. Of course, the experience of the King Cambiaso, you just can't beat it."
Dantata has been playing most of his life, following in the footsteps of his grandfather in Nigeria. He is becoming a household name in his native country which has followed his playing career.
"It is a family tradition," Dantata said. "Everybody is excited. The whole country is behind me. I bet they watch every single game. I get a lot of tags and emails. They are very excited."
Dantata, who plans to return for the second season in the WPL, has upped his game since playing with and against the best players in the world.
"The 26-goal is faster and safer," Dantata said. "Most of the players all know the rules and you can see the fouls are very limited. When you go down to 20 and 12 there are so many fouls. In the high goal, the players are professional. Everyone is more excited when they watch the games. The game goes very smoothly."
Asked before the Audi-Colorado game, if he had a preference who to play, Dantata said "Truly, I am so comfortable and confident it doesn't make a difference who we play. We started very well and started to improve and got better and better. Whoever comes, we are ready."
Terrera led scoring for SD Farms with four goals. Cambiaso had three goals and Dantata and Torres each had two goals.
Nero had a game-high five goals for Grand Champions. Ganzi had two goals and Andrade added one goal.
Both Audi and SD Farms are 5-0.
The WPL is being live streamed on ESPN Deportes and ChukkerTV/Horseplay with Gus Whitelaw calling the action. For more information go to www.worldpolo.org.
Co-founded by Grand Champions owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi and Valiente Polo Farm owner Bob Jornayvaz, the World Polo League is the only 26-goal polo in the world outside of Argentina. The WPL is preserving the highest level of polo and its rich, hallowed tradition in the U.S.
The WPL has its own set of simpler fan-friendly rules to improve the flow and action of the game.
The WPL, with tournament-quality fields to play on, includes the All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament, Founders Cup, Palm Beach Open and Triple Crown of Polo.
The World Polo League is open to other teams that wish to compete in one or more of the tournaments. Games are offered on the flat (Open) and on Handicap.
The World Polo League has attracted a large international field of players from all corners of the world including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Uruguay, New Zealand and U.S.
Grand Champions and Valiente are also launching the U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship, featuring two men and two women with combined handicaps this month.
In addition to the World Polo League, season highlights for 2019 at Grand Champions are the Sterling Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, John T. Oxley Memorial and $100,000 World Cup Tournament, a unique 0-40-goal, winner-take-all single-elimination tournament and WCT Final.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.