• First Top Pony 12-Goal

    Skaneateles Makes History At Grand Champions, Wins First Top Pony 12-Goal Title

    Skaneateles captured its first tournament title in five years at Grand Champions Polo Club on Saturday.
    By Sharon Robb
    Skaneateles (Marty Cregg, 0, Costi Caset, 5, Mariano Obregon, 6, Cesar Gimenez, 1) knocked off Patagones (Joaquin Avendano, 1, Robi Bilbao, 4, Benjamin Avendano, 2, Santi Wulff, 5), with a thrilling 10-9 victory.

    First-time Top Pony 12-Goal champion Skaneateles Cesar Jimenez, MVP Mariano Obregon, Costi Caset and Marty Cregg.

    "It was a hardfought game," Cregg said. "The competition here is the best in Florida. To play 12-goal and to win at Grand Champions especially against Patagones which is a very, very tough team, we are very happy. We have never won a tournament at Grand Champions. We won at Port Mayaca but never won a 12-goal at Grand Champions." 

    Obregon scored the winning goal with four seconds remaining with a penalty-three conversion. Obregon finished with a game-high six goals and was selected Most Valuable Player. Caset added four goals. For Patagones, Wulff had a team-high five goals, Benjamin Avendano had three and Bilbao added one goal.

    Top Pony 12-Goal Handicap winners Beverly Equestrian. 

    "I just wanted that penalty shot to go in, I wanted to get the win," Obregon said. "It's been a good season, we can't complain. We know each other, we have been playing together for three and a half years. We have played the same system and eventually it pays off. I am very happy we won."

    Since Sept. 1, 2017, the same Skaneateles foursome has competed in six 12-goal tournaments, advancing into five finals and winning four of them.

    MVP Mariano Obregon of Skaneateles with his Catena watch from Catena USA sponsor and awards presenter Bill Kraft.

    "This is our first win here in Wellington," Caset said. "We won a 12-goal in Port Mayaca and last fall we had a very successful season in Aiken where we won two out of three tournaments. We have a system and we know each other. We have nice chemistry.

    "I was confident Mariano was going to make the penalty shot," Caset said. "He had a couple before so I was confident he was going to make it. How happy am I? From one to ten, a ten."

    Costi Caset of Skaneateles hits a near side shot with Santi Wulff of Patagones defending.

    In the hotly-contested game, that featured 16 fouls in the first half alone, Skaneateles jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first chukker with Caset scoring all three goals, including one that banked off the goal post.

    Patagones regained its momentum in the second chukker outscoring Skaneateles, 2-1, to trail, 4-3. In a defensive battle in the third chukker, Patagones shut out Skaneateles to go into halftime tied, 4-4.

    Mariano Obregon of Skaneateles hits an offside near side shot past Robi Bilbao of Patagones.

    Patagones outscored Skaneateles, 2-1, in the fourth and fifth chukkers and took the lead for the first time early in the fourth chukker, 5-4. Patagones led 6-4 in the fourth and 8-5 in the fifth chukker. Patagones was down a player late in the fifth chukker when Bilbao was assessed his second yellow flag of the game. Bilbao returned with 6:11 left in the final chukker.

    Skaneateles kicked it into high gear in the sixth chukker behind Obregon, outscoring Patagones, 4-1.
     
    Robi Bilbao of Patagones reaches for the near side shot with Mariano Obregon of Skaneateles defending.

    "The whole game relied on people making good decisions when the ball was left behind or neutral," Cregg said. "Sometimes the players got caught in a foul and that made a big difference or Patagones or we were quicker to the ball. It was a game of reactions, it wasn't a game of plays."

    Skaneateles' team chemistry is evident. Obregon and Caset created a system that fit nicely with Cregg and Gimenez. 

    Benjamin Avendano of Patagones and Costi Caset of Skaneateles cross mallets for the ball.

    "We got a chance to play with each other in a couple of different tournaments and we liked the way each other played and we liked the system," Cregg said. "It was important that we found people that played well together because heroes don't win games down here. We like playing together."

    Skaneateles Polo Club is located just outside of the Village of Skaneateles, N.Y. The club offers organized practices, spectator-friendly polo matches, well-managed tournaments in a fun, fair and friendly environment.

    Joaquin Avendano of Patagones tries to avoid the hook.

    Beverly Equestrian, led by MVP Carlucho Arellano, won the Top Pony 12-Goal Handicap title with an 11-9 victory over Valiente that featured siblings Mia and Poroto Cambiaso.