Trailing by five goals (9-4) at halftime, Travieso staged an incredible comeback for a stunning 14-13 overtime victory over Audi in one of the most exciting finishes in USPA North American Cup history. In front of a good local crowd and worldwide USPA Polo Network audience, Travieso was relentless in the second half, shutting out Audi in the fifth chukker, 4-0.
Travieso outscored Audi 9-4 in the final three chukkers before Grant Ganzi came up with the game-winning penalty-two conversion with 3:41 left in sudden death. Former 10-goaler Pite Merlos was named Most Valuable Player after the playmaker sparked the comeback and scored four second-half goals.
For Team USPA member Grant Ganzi, it was his fourth USPA North American Cup title at age 20. He also won with Casablanca twice and Flexjet. Ganzi scored a game-high five goals including three key penalty conversions.
It was Team USPA’s Tony Calle second USPA North American Cup victory in three years and fifth 20-goal tournament title in his young career.
The lead changed hands four times in the sixth chukker. Phillips penalty-three conversion regained the lead for Audi at 12-11. Grant Ganzi came up with a clutch penalty-three conversion to tie the game at 12-12. With 1:25 left in regulation, Pite Merlos then lofted a penalty-four conversion to give Travieso a 13-12 lead and what looked to be the game until Spinacci took a pass from Finlayson and scored just before the horn sending the game into overtime.
Both teams had scoring opportunities from the field in overtime before Pite Merlos was fouled on a run to goal and Ganzi came up with his clutch penalty conversion.
Gracida Wines got balanced scoring from its offense. Julio Gracida scored a team-high four goals, Carlitos Gracida had three goals and Uys and Mariano Gracida each had two goals.
Flexjet took a 6-5 lead to open the fourth chukker on Dorignac’s goal. Julio Gracida tied the score, 6-6, at the 3:30 mark and Mariano Gracida scored off a rebound shot to take the lead, 7-6. Gracida Wines never trailed after that.
The USPA North American Cup has a rich tradition in history dating back to 1974. The tournament has been a mainstay in American and Canadian polo for decades at the 16 and 20-goal level.
The inaugural winner was Tulsa with Hall of Famers John T. Oxley and Billy Linfoot, Corky Linfoot and Jim MacGinley. During the late 1990s and early 2000s Calgary Polo Club hosted the tournament. The tournament has been held at Grand Champions since 2011.
Travieso: Tony Calle 3, Grant Ganzi 2, Juan Cruz Merlos 5, Pite Merlos 8. Total: 18.
AUDI: Wes Finlayson 4, Brandon Phillips 4, Pablo Spinacci 6, Marc Ganzi 2. Total: 16.
MVP: Pite Merlos.
BPP: Five-year-old Bliss, played by Pablo Spinacci and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm.
SUBSIDIARY CUP: Gracida Wines 11-9 Flexjet