After four more matches last week, the semifinals were set for the Monty Waterbury Cup Polo Tournament at Two Trees Farm in Bridgehampton.
White Birch, Equuleus, Circa and Heathcote emerged as the top four teams in the six-team tournament, all amassing 2-1 records in what has been a tightly contested battle for the trophy. White Birch was slated to take on Equuleus and Circa was set to battle Heathcote in the semifinals on Wednesday, August 10. The winners will play for the Monty Waterbury Cup on Saturday, August 13, at 4 p.m.
Certified (1-2) and Yellow Cab (0-3) failed to advance to the semis.
It was a good week for sponsor Chris Del Gatto’s Circa team, which won two matches, including an upset of perennial powerhouse White Birch. Circa knocked off White Birch in a 9-8 match on Monday, August 1, before beating previously undefeated Equuleus, 10-7, in front of the big crowd on Saturday. White Birch shook off its loss to Circa with a 14-9 win over Certified on Friday, August 5, while Heathcote earned its spot in the semifinals by denying Yellow Cab of its first win in a 17-12 game on Saturday morning.
The spectators who braved cloudy weather on Saturday were treated to a good game between Circa and Equuleus. Circa began the contest with a one-goal lead due to its 19-goal team handicap in what is a 20-goal tournament. The teams were separated by no more than two goals for most of the match, and when Equuleus six-goaler Kris Kampsen connected on a penalty-four attempt early in the sixth and final chukker, the match was tied at 7-7.
But Circa promptly rattled off three unanswered goals to solidify the win. Circa eight-goaler Magoo LaPrida—who was named the MVP—tallied the game-winner on a penalty-three attempt with 6:13 left and he then made good on two more penalty shots to close out the scoring.
LaPrida led all scorers with seven goals while Kampsen had six for Equuleus. Mariano Obregon (rated seven goals) scored once for Equuleus and Martin Pepa (rated five goals) scored twice for Circa. Carbonera, the horse belonging to Equuleus’ seven-goaler Mariano Gonzalez, was named Best Playing Pony.
Circa’s Gigi Aguero (rated six goals) didn’t score but showed some toughness after taking a scary fall in the second chukker. While making a tight turn, his horse slipped and fell, throwing him off. He returned to the match after a short break. Later in the match, Aguero fell off again and his horse was limping badly when it cantered to the sidelines. It was taken away in an ambulance, but is expected to recover after suffering what was determined to be only knee ligament damage.
In Saturday’s other match, Heathcote took a commanding lead on Yellow Cab early on and never looked back. Heathcote, a 17-goal team, started with a 3-0 lead and scored an additional three goals in the first chukker while Yellow Cab scored only once, giving Heathcote a 6-1 lead after the first chukker. Heathcote tacked on six more goals in the second chukker—including three goals scored on penalties by six-goaler Tommy Biddle and two field goals from six-goaler Naco Taverna—to increase its lead to 12-2. Yellow Cab outscored Heathcote 6-4 in the second half, but it was not nearly enough.
Biddle led all scorers with eight goals while Taverna and five-goaler Nick Manifold each had three goals for Heathcote. Yellow Cab seven-goaler Michel Dorignac had six goals.
White Birch six-goaler Freddy Mannix was the star in his team’s 14-9 win over Certified on Friday. He tallied 12 goals and scored at least twice in every chukker except the sixth. He had half of his goals in the first half, in which White Birch took an 8-3 lead. Eight-goaler Tomas Garcia Del Rio led Certified with six goals.
The battle between Circa and White Birch on August 1 featured five lead changes and six ties, with Circa narrowly escaping with a one-goal win. Circa was down 8-7 going into the final chukker after a goal by Mannix put his team up to end the fifth. But Aguero scored a field goal to tie the game in the sixth before LaPrida converted a penalty shot that proved to be the game-winner.
LaPrida led Circa with four goals while Aguero had three and five-goaler Facundo Obregon scored twice. Mannix had four goals to lead White Birch while three-goaler Mariano Gracida scored twice and nine-goaler Mariano Aguerre, usually a prolific scorer, was held to just two goals, both of which came in the second chukker.