The championship match of the Hampton Cup 20-goal polo tournament at the Bridgehampton Polo Club will be a showdown between a perennial powerhouse and a newcomer.
White Birch, the team that has dominated the July and August tournament in the Hamptons, will square off against Lechuza Caracas, a team that has seen plenty of success in other tournaments around the world but played in the Hamptons for the first time this summer.
White Birch lost to Equuleus in the first round of the summer tournament, playing for the Monty Waterbury Cup, but was missing star nine-goal player Mariano Aguerre, who was out with an injury. He returned for the second half of the season, and on Saturday, led his team to a 15-12 win over Heathcote at Two Trees Farm in Bridgehampton. Aguerre was named the MVP, and his horse, Jackie, was named Best Playing Pony. Aguerre scored six goals for his team, while eight-goal rated teammate Matias Magrini scored seven goals. White Birch held an 8-6 lead at halftime, but extended it to 11-7 after four chukkers, and held that margin of lead into the final chukker.
Heathcote sponsor Steve Lefkowitz (rated zero goals) led his team with four goals, while Naco Taverna (six goaler) scored twice and Tommy Biddle (six goaler) scored three goals. Heathcote began the game with a three-goal lead because of its 17-goal team handicap in the 20-goal tournament.
Earlier in the day, Lechuza beat Equuleus 9-8 in the other semifinal, thanks to clutch play by six-goaler Tommy Goti. Equuleus held a 7-6 lead going into the final chukker, but Goti scored both the tying and game-winning goal to lift his team to victory. He had seven goals on the day, while sponsor Victor Vargas (rated one goal) scored twice.
Mariano Gonzalez (rated seven goals) and Magoo LaPrida (rated eight goals) led Equuleus with three goals each, while Martin Pepa (rated five goals) scored twice.
The championship game was initially slated for Tuesday, August 27, but was postponed because of rain.