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USPA Fall Classic finals

Elangeni Ranch Scores Overtime Win in USPA Fall Classic Finals

Story by Alex Webbe - Photography by Alex Pacheco




If anyone needed affirmation of the current handicapping system employed by the United States Polo Association they need only attend Sunday morning’s final match of the USPA Fall Classic at the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington where two 17-goal teams battled into sudden-death overtime before Elangeni Ranch managed to score the winning goal against a determined Newport foursome.

Hector Galindo opened the scoring for Elangeni Ranch, but Newport’s Paul Knapp answered with a goal in a low scoring 1-1 first chukker.

The pace quickened with drive after drive being aggressively repelled by the defenses. Gene Goldstein put Newport on top, 2-1, but a goal from Elangeni Ranch’s Diego Cossio ended the period in a 2-2 deadlock.

Knapp’s second goal of the game gave Newport a brief 3-2 advantage before a pair of goals from the evasive Galindo ended the first half. Elangeni Ranch rode off the field after the first three chukkers with a 4-3 lead.

Photography by Alex Pacheco



Pite Merlos tied it up at 4-4 with a penalty conversion to open the second half, but goals from the field from Jota Chavanne and Galindo had Elangeni Ranch leading by two goals, 6-4, after the fourth chukker.

“I felt good about the team,” said Galindo. We were playing well together, and the horses were performing well.”

Consecutive penalty goals from Merlos leveled the score at 6-6 in the fifth chukker, and Goldstein’s second goal of the day gave Newport its first lead since the second chukker.
Cossio closed out the scoring with a goal from the field. At the end of five periods of play the score was all even at 7-7.

Cossio put Elangeni Ranch ahead, 8-7, with a goal in the sixth, but Knapp responded for Newport with a tying goal to make it 8-8. Chavanne gave the lead to Elangeni Ranch with his second goal of the day, 9-8, but with time running out, Merlos knotted it up at 9-9 with his fourth penalty goal of the match.

Following a brief recess, the teams returned to the field. Each team had a brief run at goal before Galindo took control of the ball and scored the winning goal with his fifth goal of the game.

“I knew we were going to win,” he smiled. “I knew we had it today.”


Photography by Alex Pacheco

Galindo led all scoring with five goals and earned MVP honors. Cossio scored three times and Chavanne added two goals for  the win.

Merlos scored four goals, all on penalty shots, for Newport. Knapp added three goals and team captain Gene Goldstein scored twice in a losing effort.

Halo Polo’s Miami, played by Merlos, and was named Best Playing Pony.

Photography by Alex Pacheco