• Women's League

     CrossFit/El Cid Captures Women's League Season-Finale At Santa Rita Polo Farm
    By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
     
    CrossFit/El Cid won its second consecutive Women's League monthly tournament Wednesday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.

    The team of Ashley Emerson, Anne Ahern, Slaney O'Hanlon and Courtney Asdourain defeated La Herradura (Meghan Gracida, Sibone Gallagher, Alina Carta, Tiffany Busch) with an impressive 5.5-3 victory in the season-finale.

    Ahern was named Most Valuable Player. Samson, a 5-year-old black gelding owned by legendary Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Memo Gracida was named Best Playing Pony. Both awards were sponsored by Tato's Mallets.

    Consolation and final players all smiles for the Women's League season-finale photo.
    "We had a great team," Ahern said. "There was great chemistry. I don't really play polo, I just kind of help everybody. It was great fun and everybody got along."

    Asdourain led CrossFit/El Cid in scoring with three goals. Ahern added one goal. The team received 1.5 goals on handicap. Busch scored two goals and Carta had one for La Herradura.

    "I am very happy for the team," Asdourain said. "I thought we would win. I go in thinking we are going to win every game. I don't want to feel like an underdog going into a game. I am very strong about power of the mind. Why play polo if you don't think you're going to win?

    Women's League director Alina Carta hugs Anne Ahern of CrossFit El Cid with her MVP and BPP awards.
    "I have played with a combination of these girls but never as a team," Asdourain said. "They all did well. Ashley has improved and gotten better and better. She took on a tough challenge defending Tiffany, the highest rated player on that team but she did a good job."

    At 20, Emerson, based in Toronto, said the Women's Monthly League helped her improve her skills and also make friends in polo. She credited Cecilia Cochran, Echezarreta, Carta, Asdourain and Sheehan for helping her on the field. "They were all so supportive," Emerson said, who plans to remain in Wellington through April and then return to Canada.

    Alina Carta of La Herradura drives downfield with teammates.
    "I am extraordinarily happy," Emerson said after winning her first major women's tournament. "I have been playing polo for ten years but never been properly coached which is why I am stuck at a minus-one  rating. I like them telling me what to do on the field, I have learned so much. I am over the moon with the win. I want to come back next year."

    The first-of-its kind monthly women's polo league in the world, was created by Carta, one of the sport's pioneers, and supported by USPA Florida Circuit Governor and Grand Champions Polo Club President Melissa Ganzi, also a top player who has competed around the world.

    Ashley Emerson of CrossFit El Cid defends Tiffany Busch of La Herradura.
    Carta pitched the idea to Ganzi in May 2016 and the league made its debut in January with Scribble Horse (Kathy Iverson, Ashley Emerson, Kylie Sheehan, Courtney Asdourain) winning the inaugural event.

    "This is what polo used to be for me," Carta said. "We play with friends, laugh and then go have lunch. This leads to a lot of other teams getting formed for other tournaments. Melissa was really supportive of the idea and we are so grateful for the opportunity to do this at this beautiful facility."

    Courtney Asdourain of CrossFit El Cid chases down the ball near sideboards.
    Asdourain, a top player who has competed around the world, most recently in Thailand, was the League's inaugural MVP.

    "This was an amazing, phenomenal idea," Asdourain said. "Next year I plan to set aside three or four horses of my own just to play in this League."

    Asdourain was her team's field general and most vocal, coaching her teammates throughout the game.

    MVP Anne Ahern of CrossFit El Cid hits the ball out of the air.
    "This league is only going to elevate all of our games," Asdourain said. "To see the progression of the polo from the first month to now is amazing. The girls are getting organized, stepping up to be team captains and strategizing from week to week. That's something that we lacked in polo and that has brought a new element to the game for us."

    In the consolation game, San Saba (Dawn Jones, Jocelyn Grouix, Dawn Weber, Clarissa Echezarreta) won with a 7-2 victory over Scribble Horse Polo (Kathy Iverson, Amy Huson, Marisa Bianchi, Kylie Sheehan). Jones led scoring with four goals, Echezarreta had two goals and Grouix added one.

    Dawn Jones of San Saba drives downfield for one of her four goals in the consolation game. Photos by ChukkerTV