Equuleus Captures Halo Polo 6-Goal Final;
Hugo Tagliaferro Named MVP
By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo ClubEquuleus won its first tournament of the winter season on Saturday in the Halo Cup 6-Goal Final at Equuleus.
The Equuleus foursome of Juanse Olivera, Hugo Tagliaferro, Martin Pepa and Joe DiMenna jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the second chukker and went on to defeat Horseware/Aliano Realty, 12-6, at its home field.
After playing together for five years, the chemistry was evident between DiMenna, Tagliaferro and Pepa.
Equuleus winning teammates Juanse Olivera, MVP Hugo Tagliaferro, Martin Pepa and Joe DiMenna.With the addition of 14-year-old Juanse Olivera, a freshman at Wellington High School, it only added to the team's success.
"I definitely didn't think we had the game in the bag," DiMenna said. "This is a very good, tough team. We just maybe played the best game we have played all season which we needed to do. We had a few lucky breaks, we were only up a goal or two in the first half so it was really close. Then we had a really good third chukker."
Horseware/Aliano Realty (Tom Macguinness, Nick Aliano, Hugo Lloret, Segundo Merlos) trailed by only one, 5-4, late in the second chukker but could not reel in Equuleus.
"I was expecting this good score especially if I kept playing calm," said Pepa, known for his emotionally-charged games. "We have a really good team. Juanse is playing in the front and Joe stays in the back and I am in the middle with Hugo."
Equuleus defenders Joe DiMenna and Juanse Olivera close in on Segundo Merlos.Tagliaferro, a 25-year veteran of the game, played well on both ends of the field and was named Most Valuable Player.
"It's so much fun playing together with your friends," Tagliaferro said. "We play together all the time. It's nice to play with the people you know. I am so happy with the win."
Added Pepa, "I was very happy to see Hugo get MVP. He is like my father, my uncle and my mentor."
Barbie, an 8-year-old mare ridden by Hugo Lloret and owned by Tom Macguinness was selected Best Playing Pony.
Tom Macguinness and Hugo Lloret of Horseware/Aliano Realty with Best Playing Pony Barbie.DiMenna was pleased with his team's first victory of the season. Equuleus scored six unanswered points to pull away in the second half.
"Martin and Hugo put the four of us together," DiMenna said. "The three of us have been a core of a team for a long time and they decided to bring in Juanse, who is an up-and-coming star. I'm very happy with the win. Everyone is safe, nobody's hurt, no horses are hurt and it was a good game. Winning was nice, too."
Pepa scored a game-high six goals for Equuleus. Tagliaferro scored three goals, all on penalty conversions. Olivera also scored three goals, all from the field.
Martin Pepa of Equuleus defends Hugo Lloret."We have been playing together for five years," Pepa said. "We know each other very well which is why we are one of the top organizations with the horses. It makes a difference."
Olivera, one of the up-and-coming young players in the sport, added to his successful winter season.
"This was a really fun team," Olivera said. "They are nice to play with. We understand each other. We played really good today, stayed calm and luckily we won.
"In the second half we just entered with our minds frozen on the game, calm and focused. We made some goals that were important and got a good lead."
MVP Hugo Tagliafierro of Equuleus defends Hugo Lloret.Olivera said his game is improving playing with and against more-experienced players.
"They help a lot with me to improve every part of my game," Olivera said. "They are nice players and it's a lot of fun playing with them."
Lloret led Horseware/Aliano Realty scoring with four goals. Merlos added two.
In the 6-Goal Handicap Final held Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club, Hawk Hill defeated Pony Express, 7-5.
Hawk Hill (Poroto Cambiaso, Nico Diaz Alberdi, Gringo Colombres, Phillip Mactaggart) was led by Colombres with five goals. Cambiaso and Alberdi, the youngsters of the team, each scored one. It was a great way for Mactaggart to celebrate his birthday.
For Pony Express (Landen Daniels, Benji Daniels, Justin Daniels, JJ Celis), Justin Daniels and Celis each had two goals and Landen Daniels added one.
Grand Champions Polo Club awards table for the Halo Cup 6-Goal Final. Photos by ChukkerTVIn the Santa Rita 6-Goal Final held Saturday at Santa Rita Polo Farm, Grand Champions (Will Jacobs, Grant Ganzi, Jesse Bray, Santos Bollini) defeated The Polo School (Lucas Lalor, Jeff Desich, Rick Desich, Juancito Bollini), 8-5. Jacobs, a product of The Polo School at Grand Champions, was named Most Valuable Player.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its' Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.