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Casablanca Defeats Las Monjitas In Grand Champions Limited Edition 12-Goal Series, Instant Replay Makes Debut

January 23, 2014 By: janwest Category: General

Casablanca's Miguel Astrada (3) chases down his younger brother Alejandro (Negro) Astrada (3) with the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher

Casablanca’s Miguel Astrada (3) chases down his younger brother Alejandro (Negro) Astrada (3) with the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher

WELLINGTON, FL-Jan. 18, 2014—-Casablanca won a hardfought 11-10 victory over Las Monjitas Saturday to remain undefeated in the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Casablanca’s Miguel Novillo Astrada scored six goals including the game-winner with 1:14 left and was named Most Valuable Player.

 Most Valuable Player Miguel Novillo Astrada of Casablanca led scoring with six goals. Photo by Scott Fisher


Most Valuable Player Miguel Novillo Astrada of Casablanca led scoring with six goals. Photo by Scott Fisher

“It was a very good, tough game,” Astrada said. “We were good the first half which I think helped us. We knew they were going to come back in the second half. We just kept being disciplined and got a couple of calls that helped us secure the game.”

 Casablanca's MVP Miguel Astrada (3) looks for the ball near his horse's hoof as Las Monjitas defenders move in. Photo by Scott Fisher


Casablanca’s MVP Miguel Astrada (3) looks for the ball near his horse’s hoof as Las Monjitas defenders move in. Photo by Scott Fisher

Moonshine, ridden by Alejandro (Negro) Astrada in the opening chukker, was named Best Playing Pony. Astrada scored a game-high seven goals.

Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Miguel Astrada, Wes Finlayson) was tested by Las Monjitas (Camilo Bautista, Mattias Llanos, Alejandro (Negro) Astrada, Peke Gonzalez) for most of the game.

The Saturday feature game in front of a packed house marked the debut of instant replay, utilized for the first time in the sport. It met with rave reviews from players and officials and will continue to be used every week in the feature game at Grand Champions.

“It was a significant day for our club and for polo. I am really happy and pleased with the outcome of our instant replay and our challenge rule we established today,” said Grand Champions owner Melissa Ganzi, a driving force behind the introduction of instant replay in the sport.

Casablanca's Miguel Astrada (3) battles for ball possession with brother Alejandro (Negro) Astrada (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

Casablanca’s Miguel Astrada (3) battles for ball possession with brother Alejandro (Negro) Astrada (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

For Casablanca, it was only the second time Ganzi, Bollini and Finlayson played alongside Astrada, a 9-goaler.

“I like playing with them very much,” Astrada said. “They are very nice kids. They try very hard. They are willing to listen to what I say and to learn.”

Ganzi added two goals and played well defensively.

“It was a good win, we could have played maybe a little bit better but it was a good win,” Ganzi said. “They were a tough team. Negro is an outstanding player and has been playing very well this season in the 20-goal so it’s a good accomplishment to beat him.”

Casablanca teammates Wes Finlayson (4) and Miguel Astrada (3) pressure Matias Llanos of Las Monjitas (2) trying to maintain possession.  Photo by Scott FIsher

Casablanca teammates Wes Finlayson (4) and Miguel Astrada (3) pressure Matias Llanos of Las Monjitas (2) trying to maintain possession.
Photo by Scott FIsher

Casablanca and Las Monjitas tied in the first chukker (3-3) and Casablanca took a 5-4 lead after the second chukker before Casablanca shut out Las Monjitas, 2-0, in the third chukker to take a 7-4 halftime lead.

“It was probably one of the more important games in this tournament mainly because the other team is very hard and don’t normally lose games,” Finlayson said. “We ended up coming back and doing well. It was a good experience for us. I really enjoy playing with Miguel a lot.”

Las Monjitas' Alejandro (Negro) Astrada (3) avoids foul against Casablanca's Juancito Bollini (2). Photo by Scott Fisher

Las Monjitas’ Alejandro (Negro) Astrada (3) avoids foul against Casablanca’s Juancito Bollini (2). Photo by Scott Fisher

Las Monjitas kept it close in the second half coming within one goal in the fifth and sixth chukkers. Negro Astrada scored a penalty-two with eight seconds remaining but time ran out for a comeback.

“It was a fast game, much faster than the 8-goal,” Bollini said. “The game was fun. It was a change from one day to another. This was really a tough team. It was amazing playing with Miguel. He teaches you so much. He makes you think more and work more. We won because we took the man and let Miguel do his magic.”

Las Monjitas team captain Camilo Bautista, who missed last season because of knee surgery and since then has lost 80 pounds, said the game could have gone either way.

Las Monjitas team captain Camilo Bautista (1) tries to break away with the ball from Casablanca's Miguel Astrada (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

Las Monjitas team captain Camilo Bautista (1) tries to break away with the ball from Casablanca’s Miguel Astrada (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

“It was a good, well-played game,” Bautista said. “It was a tough game, having Miguel with three young kids. Now I have to go and get some rest. It was difficult.”

Bautista is also playing the 20-goal with teammates Geronimo Obregon and brothers Eduardo and Alejandro (Negro) Astrada.

Awards presenter Tracy Schwartz hands out trophies to Casablanca players Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Miguel Astrada, Wes Finlayson and Las Monjitas players Camilo Bautista, Matias Llanos, Alejandro Astrada and Peke Gonzalez. Photo by Scott Fisher

Awards presenter Tracy Schwartz hands out trophies to Casablanca players Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Miguel Astrada, Wes Finlayson and Las Monjitas players Camilo Bautista, Matias Llanos, Alejandro Astrada and Peke Gonzalez. Photo by Scott Fisher

“I enjoy polo and this helps getting in shape and form,” Bautista said. “I try to play as much as possible when I am here. This is very competitive in 12 goals. They make you work too much.”

Winning team Casablanca Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Miguel Astrada and Wes Finlayson hold the winning trophy for the featured game of the 12-Goal Limited Edition Series. Photo by Scott Fisher

Winning team Casablanca Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Miguel Astrada and Wes Finlayson hold the winning trophy for the featured game of the 12-Goal Limited Edition Series. Photo by Scott Fisher

Miguel Astrada toppled off his horse in the fourth chukker but returned to the game uninjured after getting the wind knocked out of him when his body hit the field.

Players and fans were treated to a post-game asado provided by Cilantro’s Gourmet Deli owner Herman Moreira.

Cilantro's Gourmet Deli owner Herman Moreira puts the finishing spices on an assortment of meat served at Grand Champions post-game asado. Photo by Scott Fisher

Cilantro’s Gourmet Deli owner Herman Moreira puts the finishing spices on an assortment of meat served at Grand Champions post-game asado. Photo by Scott Fisher

In other Grand Champions at PB Polo action:

Limited Edition 12-Goal Series: Goose Creek 11, Far Niente 10, Cote Zeggers led scoring with six goals including the game-winner in the sixth chukker. Teammates Maureen Brennan and Lucas Arellano each had two goals and Tano Vial added one. Michel Dorignac had six goals for Far Niente.

Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal: Tonchala 14, New Chance Polo 10, Tavi Usandizaga led all scoring with a game-high 11 goals. Nacho Acuna had five goals for New Chance Polo.

Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal: KIG 9, Grand Champions 7, Mattias Sosa led KIG scoring with five goals and Wesley Uys scored two goals in the final chukker to clinch the game. Grant Ganzi led Grand Champions scoring with three goals.

A full house enjoys the Saturday feature game between Casablanca and Las Monjitas at Grand Champions Polo Club. Photo by Scott Fisher

A full house enjoys the Saturday feature game between Casablanca and Las Monjitas at Grand Champions Polo Club. Photo by Scott Fisher

Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal: La Casa Hermosa 13, Palm Beach Equine/Odosan 10, Hector Galindo had six goals and Brad Blake scored five to lead La Casa Hermosa. Matt Coppola led PB Equine/Odosan with seven goals.

Aspen Valley Cup 8-Goal: Hawk Hill 13, TLC Development 9, Peke Gonzalez and Gringo Colombres each scored five goals for Hawk Hill.

Metropolitan Cup 5-Goal: Elegante Polo 7, Santa Clara 6: Omar Sosa led all scoring with four goals.

For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go towww.grandchampionspoloclub.org.

Polo fans checking out the apparel at the Grand Champions Boutique. Photo by Scott Fisher

Polo fans checking out the apparel at the Grand Champions Boutique. Photo by Scott Fisher

GRAND CHAMPIONS @ PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

JANUARY: Metropolitan Cup (5 goals); Aspen Valley Cup (8 goals); The Limited Edition 12-Goal Series.

FEBRUARY: Halo Polo Trophy (5 goals); USPA Cyril R. Harrison Trophy; USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy.

MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5 goals); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; USPA Regional President’s Cup (8 goals); $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals).

APRIL: Las Acacias (5 goals); USPA Association Cup (8 goals); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goals); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16 goals).

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB SCHEDULE

JANUARY 20: Joanna Monaco Memorial Tournament, noon.

MARCH 9: Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match, 10 a.m., benefitting Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington.

MARCH 17: Buzz Welker Memorial Tournament

APRIL 3-5: Fifth annual Gay Polo League International Tournament

APRIL 8-12: Women’s Championship Tournament

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB

WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 561-644-5050.

INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Flight Options. Everyone is welcome to watch high, medium and low goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the winter, spring and fall tournament season and other special events including International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, ProKidz Tournaments in the spring and fall, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.