GSA Dominates Casablanca To Capture $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; Juan Martin Zubia Named MVP
By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo ClubGSA became the youngest team in tournament history to capture the fourth annual $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament Tuesday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
GSA's foursome of Henry Porter, 17, Santino Magrini, 15, Juan Martin Zubia, 18, and Victorino Ruiz, 18, turned in one of the most dominating performances to defeat Casablanca (Matias Gonzalez, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Jesse Bray), 13-6.
Winning GSA teammates Santino Magrini, Henry Porter, Torito Ruiz and Juan Martin Zubero with awards presenter Juan Bollini.GSA, making its final appearance of the winter season, was the most dominant 12-goal team at Grand Champions during the 2017 winter season, losing only to Patagones (Santi Wulff, Joaquin Avendano, Benjamin Avendano, Tavi Usandizaga) in overtime in the January Limited Edition 12-Goal Series.
Zubia was named Most Valuable Player. Zubia scored a game-high six goals. He is the youngest among past MVPs Luis Escobar (2014), Mark Tomlinson (2015) and Jesse Bray (2016). Zubia's mare Budha was selected Best Playing Pony.
$50,000 National 12-Goal finalists GSA and Casablanca with Juan Bollini."I am very happy the team did well," Zubia said. "Matias is a good coach and the organization is great. We played very well. This is what we wanted to do."
GSA joins past team champions Palm Beach Equine (Scott Swerdlin, Alejandro Gonzalez, TommyCollingwood, Luis Escobar), Audi (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mark Tomlinson, Wes Finlayson) and Palm Beach Illustrated/Team USPA (Todd Thurston, Jared Zenni, Geronimo Obregon, Jesse Bray).
Grant Ganzi of Casablanca follows up his shot with Santino Magrini of GSA defending."They had a great season," said GSA coach and 8-goaler Matias Magrini. "Unluckily, they are splitting apart but it was a lot of fun to be with all of them. They are a great pleasure. They proved they are a hell of a team. They beat some amazing teams."
Also scoring for GSA was Ruiz with five goals and Magrini with two.
Torito Ruiz of GSA scoring one of his five goals."We are all friends and wanted to play together so we put a team together," Ruiz said. "It was a team of friends to play, have fun and get better and better."
Said Santino Magrini, "I am very happy, this is the most important win of the season. It was very fun. Every single game we try to play the best we can in the first chukker and keep on going from there.
"We practically live together," Magrini said. "We wake up and go to the barns together at 8 o'clock. We go for lunch and then we go back to the barns. Then we have dinner and we do it all over again the next day."
Grant Ganzi of Casablanca trying to avoid the hook from Torito Ruiz of GSA.
Porter was outstanding on defense turning away two goal attempts and stopping a penalty conversion attempt.
"We are really happy, it's been a great season," Porter said. "This is what we have been working for the whole season. It's a great achievement for us to get together four young good friends. It's a fantastic achievement for us.
"Casablanca is a very good team," Porter said. "It's the same with every team we have played. They have all been very good teams. We have just been able to get the breakaways. Next year hopefully we will play the 16s together."
Jesse Bray of Casablanca trying to get the offense moving against GSA defenders.
Bray scored a team-high four goals for Casablanca. Ganzi added one and the team picked up a penalty-one goal.
GSA started out strong jumping on Casablanca for a 5-0 lead and shutting them out the first two chukkers. Trailing 7-2 at the half and 8-2 after the fourth chukker, Casablanca could never find its rhythm or offense against GSA's swarming defense.
"We didn't expect this score," Matias Magrini said. "Casablanca is an amazing team, really, really good. This game could have been for anybody. I think that GSA got lucky at the start with a couple of breakaways. The result doesn't reflect the game it was."
Torito Ruiz of GSA driving the ball downfield ahead Casablanca defenders.Global Student Accomodation (GSA), which created the student accommodation sector, sponsored its first polo team. The global communities give students the space to grow in the direction that matters most to them when they are away from their homes.
The team will now go its separate ways. Zubia returns to Argentina on Wednesday and will start college. Ruiz will play in Thursday's 20-goal Sterling Cup final for Travieso against Casablanca andwill then head back to Argentina next week. Magrini will return to Argentina on Monday to play 16-20 goal tournaments. Porter and Ruiz will remain in Wellington with Matias Magrini.
A packed house at Grand Champions for the $50,000 National 12-Goal Final.All four players' ratings are expected to be raised but they hope to compete as a team once again in a 16-goal league next winter.
The tournament, live-streamed by ChukkerTV, is the nation's only 12-goal winner-take-all tournament that offers major prize money.
In addition to top-seed GSA and No. 4 seed Casablanca, the seven-team tournament attracted Tackeria, Polologistics, Westhaven, Port Mayaca and County Line Feed and Supply/Team USPA.
Grand Champions awards table for the $50,000 National 12-Goal-final.Photos by ChukkerTVGrand 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. ThePolo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
2017 GRAND CHAMPIONS WINTER SCHEDULE(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).March 16, Thursday: Sterling Cup (20 goal) Championship Final, Casablanca vs. Travieso, 4 p.m.March 17-April 1, Molina 20-Goal Cup: Friday, Beverly Equestrian vs. Goose Creek, 2 p.m.;Monday, Valiente vs. Beverly Equestrian, 3 p.m., Dutta Corp vs. Casabanca, 4:30 p.m.; Santa Rita Abierto (Subs. Handicap).MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (6 goal), Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., Grand Champions vs. The Polo School, Saturday, 10 a.m., Pony Express vs. Willow Farm, 11:30 a.m., Grand Champions vs. Equuleus, Sunday, 10 a.m, Patagones vs. Hawk Hill; Limited Edition 8-Goal Series, Friday, 11 a.m., Hawk Hill vs. Valiente; Top Pony 12-Goal Series,Thursday, 3 p.m., Skaneateles vs. Whitehall Ranch;Friday, 4:30 p.m., Patagones vs. High Ground;Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Whitehall Ranch vs. High Ground.Women's League, every Wednesday, 10 and 11 a.m.APRIL 1-15: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals).APRIL 1-25: Las Acacias (4-8 Goals).APRIL 5-8: WCT Finals, Women's Polo Week and Celebration of Sunny Hale's Life.