Despite missing the anchors of its team—sponsor Peter Brant and veteran nine-goaler Mariano Aguerre—the White Birch Farm polo team still managed to scratch out a victory over newcomer Lechuza Caracas in opening day of the Monty Waterbury Cup tournament at the Bridgehampton Polo Club on Saturday.
White Birch, the perennial favorite in the 20-goal tournament, will have to compete without star player Aguerre for the duration of the Monty Waterbury tournament after he suffered a knee injury playing in Greenwich, Connecticut. Brant was suffering from illness and was forced to the sidelines for the opener, but was expected to be back for the next game. Aguerre should return for the second half of the summer season, when the teams battle for the Hampton Cup.
Despite missing its veteran players, however, White Birch found a way to get past Lechuza, which is playing in the Bridgehampton tournament for the first time but is not a stranger to prestigious competitions.
Lechuza took an early 3-1 at the start of the second chukker, but then White Birch went on a 6-0 run to take a 7-3 lead at the start of the fourth chukker. Four of those goals were scored by seven-goaler Joao Paulo Ganon, who had a team-high six goals in the match. The other two came off the mallet of Matias Magrini (rated 8 goals).
Lechuza’s six-goaler, Tommy Goti, tried to get his team back in the match, scoring three straight goals to end the fourth chukker and close the gap to 7-6, but Lechuza failed to score in the fifth chukker and White Birch increased its lead to 11-7, before Lechuza added two more goals in the final chukker.
Goti led Lechuza with six goals, while sponsor Victor Vargas (rated 1 goal) scored once, as did three-goaler Mariano Gracida. Lechuza’s 10-goaler, Juan Martin Nero, scored just once. Del Walton (rated 3 goals) scored twice for White Birch, while Magrini had two goals.
On Sunday, the other two teams in the tournament, Heathcote and Equuleus, met up, with Equuleus winning 10-7. Because Heathcote is a 17-goal team in a 20-goal tournament, it starts each match with a 3-0 advantage. The teams traded goals in the first chukker, which ended with Heathcote leading 5-2, but Heathcote did not score again until the final chukker. Equuleus took the lead for good when eight-goaler Mariano Gonzalez scored at the end of the second chukker to put his team up 6-5. Equuleus scored four more unanswered goals to go up 10-5 heading into the sixth chukker, when sponsor Steve Lefkowitz (rated 0 goals) and Tommy Biddle (rated 6 goals) scored to provide the final margin. Martin Pepa (rated 5 goals) and Gonzalez each had four goals to lead Equuleus, while eight-goaler Magoo LaPrida scored twice. Biddle led Heathcote with two goals, while Lefkowitz and five-goaler Nick Manifold each scored once.
Play was scheduled to continue on Wednesday, July 24, with Heathcote taking on White Birch at 10:30 a.m. On Saturday, Heathcote and Lechuza will play at 4 p.m.