• Sieber Memorial

    Patagones Wins Sieber Memorial 12-Goal Tournament; Santi Wulff Named MVP

    After finishing runner-up to GSA last season, Patagones was determined to win the Sieber Memorial 12-Goal Tournament Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
    By Sharon Robb
    Sieber Memorial 12-Goal champions Patagones with awards presenter John Sieber.

    In the battle of unbeaten teams, Patagones (Joaquin Avendano, 1, Robi Bilbao, 4, Benjamin Avendano, 2, Santi Wulff, 5) held off Beverly Equestrian (Bill Ballhaus, 0, Hilario Figueras, 2, Tolito Ocampo, 4, Carlucho Arellano, 5) for a thrilling 11-10 victory.

    Joaquin Avendano, Benjamin Avendano and Santi Wulff were members of last year's runner-up team. Patagones finished this year's tournament 5-0 and Beverly Equestrian dropped to 3-1.

    Wulff scored a game-high seven goals and was named Most Valuable Player.

    John Sieber with Sieber Memorial 12-Goal finalists Patagones and Beverly Equestrian.

    "It was the most competitive tournament, there were so many teams," Wulff said. "We played five games to get here so it was a long tournament. We wanted to win it after last year."

    Also scoring for Patagones, Bilbao had three goals and Joaquin Avendano added one goal.

    Benjamin Avendano had the daunting task of marking Arellano in the game.

    Carlucho Arellano of Beverly Equestrian hits a back shot past defender Benjamin Avendano.

    "I was very happy with how I played," Avendano said. "I had to be careful. They told me he plays a very classic style of polo. My goal was to make him hit it in front of us and it worked. At the beginning of the game I was a little nervous but as the time went on I got more confident."

    Added Wulff, "Benjamin did an amazing job marking a 5-goaler with a lot of experience, which is not easy. He did really good and that allowed us to have more time on the field."

    Arellano led Beverly Equestrian with four second-half goals, including three on penalty conversions. Ocampo had three goals and Figueras added one. Beverly Equestrian was awarded a penalty one and one goal on handicap.

    Hilario Figueras of Beverly Equestrian drives past defender Joaquin Avendano.

    Patagones led for the entire game but Beverly Equestrian made it interesting by mounting a rally in the fifth and sixth chukker.

    "They were a good team to come back like that," Benjamin Avendano said. "This was a competitive tournament. We beat Valiente by one goal and Newport by one goal.

    Santi Wulff of Patagones balances the ball in the air between two defenders.

    Patagones led 3-2, 6-3 and 8-4 in the first half, winning the throw-ins and taking advantage of missed scoring opportunities and forced errors by Beverly Equestrian. 

    "I thought we started very good," Wulff said. "I think we were winning by two or three goals the whole game and in the last chukker sometimes the other team plays everything or nothing. Sometimes it happens. They started to move forward more and we lost a little bit of concentration. We were able to keep them from the ball in the final minute."

    Robi Bilbao of Patagones looks to be flying on his horse as he approaches the ball.

    Beverly Equestrian found its momentum and started forcing Patagones into errors,  and outscoring them 6-3 in the second half including shutting them out, 2-0, in the final chukker. 

    Arellano scored back-to-back goals in the sixth chukker to bring his team to within one, 11-10. Beverly Equestrian was unable to take advantage of two scoring opportunities late in the game as Patagones held on for the win.

    APHA Best Registered Horse of the game, Echarpe, a 10-year-old grey gelding owned and played by Bill Ballhaus.

    Echarpe, a 10-year-old grey gelding owned and played by Bill Ballhaus, was named American Polo Horse Association Best Registered horse for the game. 

    Adele, a 6-year-old mare bred and owned by Matt Coppola, was named American Polo Horse Association Best Registered horse for the tournament. 

    APHA Best Registered Horse of the tournament, Adele, 6-year-old mare bred and owned by Matt Coppola.

    The APHA was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms. The APHA horse's grooms receive $250.

    The Grand Champions Polo Club Best Playing Pony was Chukker, an American thoroughbred owned and played by Carlucho Arellano. The bay mare was bred by Bart Evans, purchased and trained by Marathon Farms and sold to Arellano as a 5-year-old. 

    Club Best Playing Pony, Chukker, owned and played by Carlucho Arellano.

    Patagones players were awarded original prints designed by Brazilian-born renowned artist Romero Britto of Miami Beach. The signed prints featured a polo player in full swing on a polo pony surrounded by a palm tree, heart and whimsical designs of color. 

    The tournament is named in honor of polo player Rob Sieber, who died in a polo-related accident 32 years ago at Oak Brook, Ill. John Sieber presented the awards during the post-game ceremony. Sieber was also presented with a Britto print from Grand Champions.

    Santi Wulff of Patagones chases down Carlucho Arellano as he hits a neck shot.