Mariano Gonzalez played his best polo when it mattered most on Saturday in the Monty Waterbury Cup Final at Two Trees Farm in Bridgehampton.
The eight-goal rated player tallied four straight goals bridging the fifth and sixth chukkers to move his Equuleus team from an 8-6 deficit to a 10-8 lead over defending champion White Birch Farm. White Birch’s Joao Paulo Ganon added the final goal of the game, but his team couldn’t get the equalizer, and Equuleus walked away with the championship.
Gonzalez finished with a game-high six goals, while teammate Magoo LaPrida had three and Martin Pepa added one. Ganon led White Birch with four goals while Del Walton had three and sponsor Peter Brant had two. White Birch played the entire tournament without veteran nine-goaler Mariano Aguerre, who was out with a knee injury.
On Sunday, the other two teams in the tournament—Lechuza Caracas and Heathcote—squared off in the subsidiary final, for the Two Trees Cup. Lechuza prevailed 12-11 in overtime, led by six-goaler Tommy Goti, who scored the winner in the extra session. While Goti’s goal was the game-winner, the sponsors of both teams came up big in the end of the sixth chukker. Victor Vargas gave Lechuza an 11-10 lead in the sixth, but Heathcote sponsor Steve Lefkowitz forced overtime with a goal after that.
Heathcote began the game with a 3-0 lead, because of its team’s 17-goal handicap in the 20-goal tournament. But Lechuza quickly made up the difference, as Goti scored the first four goals of the game to put his team up 4-3. Vargas followed with a goal in the second chukker to put Lechuza up 5-3, but the teams were tied at 6-6 at halftime as Heathcote six-goaler Tommy Biddle scored on two penalty shots and five-goaler Nick Manifold added a goal.
Vargas was named the Most Valuable Player for the game, while Manifold’s horse Camorra was named Best Playing Pony.
The second half of the high-goal season was slated to get underway this week, as the same four teams return to compete for the Hampton Cup. Six games will be played before the semifinals start on Wednesday, August 21, although some of the games are not played at Two Trees Farm and are thus not open to the public. On Saturday, August 10, Heathcote will take on White Birch at the Bridgehampton Polo Club (at Two Trees Farm) at 4 p.m.. On Wednesday, August 14, Lechuza will face White Birch at Two Trees at 10:30 a.m., and on Saturday, August 17, Heathcote will face Lechuza at 4 p.m. The final for the Hampton Cup is set for Saturday, August 24, and the subsidiary final for the Bridgehampton Polo Cup will take place on Sunday, August 5. Fields and times for those games have yet to be determined.