Thrilling Final Set Between La Herradura and Texas Monthly in U.S. Open Women's Handicap
La Herradura Earns the First Spot in U.S. Open Women’s Handicap Final
In the first semifinal of the U.S. Open Women’s Handicap hosted by Houston Polo Club in Houston, Texas, on Friday, November 10, La Herradura’s handicap advantage gave them the edge needed to keep Overture Tanglewood at bay, claiming the first spot in the final 3.5-3. Gaining 1.5 goals to start the four chukker game, La Herradura’s opening period proved just enough to maintain the lead.
Within the first few minutes of play, La Herradura’s Courtney Asdourian nailed the first goal of the game. Soon after, teammate Sheila Lequerica followed up with a second quick goal, advancing the scoreboard 3.5-0 in favor of La Herradura. Caroline Anier, a smart and skillful player, finally took one to goal for Overture Tanglewood, ending the first 3.5-1. A combination of defensive plays and missed penalty opportunities resulted in neither team scoring in the second. As both sides battled it out, Anier demonstrated the capabilities of her 6-goal handicap, strategic and present in every play across the field. “We came out strong and then we just had to hold Overture Tanglewood off from there,” Bray said. “Caroline Anier is tricky.” Shooting wide, Overture Tanglewood was unable to secure a Penalty 2 conversion for her team and the scoreboard held at halftime 3.5-1 in favor of La Herradura.
Returning with a renewed fire, Overture Tanglewood came out on the attack in the third. Playing a noticeably clean chukker the women kept the ball consistently in play resulting in Overture Tanglewood’s second goal, scored by Kendall Plank. Overture Tanglewood would need two goals to overtake the lead, but as the teams fought for control, La Herradura’s Bray made several strategic defensive plays. “Chad Bowman’s horse Kuvo who I played in the fourth chukker is my favorite because he’s awesome, super handy and really fast,” Bray revealed. “He flew down the field a couple times and his speed helps me to catch other people with no problem.” Two minutes remaining on the clock, Anier hit a stroke of luck, converting a Penalty 2 and coming within a half goal of La Herradura. Needing another goal fast, Anier was on her way on a breakaway, but the ball was overridden. La Herradura squeezed into the final with a final score of 3.5-3.
Texas Monthly Rebounds to Steal a Place in U.S. Open Women’s Handicap Final
Making a comeback in the fourth chukker against Listo Polo/Sullivan Group, Texas Monthly unleashed their star player to secure the win in the U.S. Open Women’s Handicap Semifinal and earn their spot in the final 6-4.5.
From the moment the ball touched the ground in the first, both teams raced to set the pace. Holding a 2.5 handicap advantage, Listo Polo/Sullivan Group would be a formidable opponent, but Grace Mudra’s smart play and swift pony paid off with the first goal going to Texas Monthly. “Grace is addicted to
polo,” said Pam Mudra, Grace’s mother. “We play polo at Jackson Hole [Wyoming], in the summer and she and her brother play six days a week. Bridget Price is one of her best friends and Grace is so excited to play with Lia Salvo and our good friend Carolyn Stimmel.” Heavy-hitting player Lia Salvo continued the momentum with an offensive attack on breakaway, completing a beautiful shot on goal. Diminishing the goal difference within minutes, the first chukker ended 2.5-2 in favor of Listo Polo/Sullivan Group. With only five seconds remaining before the halftime horn sounded, Julia Smith took advantage of an open goal Penalty 2 and increased Listo Polo’/Sullivan Group’s lead 3.5-2.
The third underway, Salvo was caught on a right of way penalty. Smith once again saw her opportunity and hit the 60-yard penalty to add one more to Listo Polo/Sullivan Group’s tally. Stimmel quickly answered back by successfully converting an open goal Penalty 3 to stay in the game. “We organized ourselves well as a team and I know Carolyn’s [Stimmel] game really well so it’s easy to play with her,” Salvo stated. “We also have the two girls in front that open up the field a lot for us.” As the defensive battled waged on, Smith utilized the boards as a fifth player, but Salvo swooped in and nailed a 40-yard shot on goal before the close of the third. Texas Monthly used Salvo’s strengths to their advantage in the fourth. Moving her team into the lead for the first time, Salvo sunk another Penalty 2, her fifth goal of the game.
“It was a really tough game, maybe one of the toughest for the team, but overall it was good,. I think it’s always good to get into a final after a difficult game.” – Lia Salvo
Jumping up to 6-4.5 now in favor of Texas Monthly, Listo Polo was in trouble with only two minutes left to recover. Salvo was called on a right of way penalty, opening up an opportunity for Listo to make up ground, but this time Smith missed the mark. Texas Monthly came out on top with a final score of 6-4.5 and will face La Herradura in the U.S. Open Women’s Handicap Final on Saturday, November 11, at 2:30pm ET. “La Herradurra is a really nice team and it will be very tough because they have Memo Gracida as a coach,” Salvo said. “We are going to watch our tape and theirs to see how they play and prepare for the final tomorrow.”
Local spectators are encouraged to attend the final match or catch the action live on the USPA Polo Network at uspolo.org. For information on tickets please visit www.houstonpoloclub.com.