GSA Clinches East Coast Open Polo Title Over Audi
By Liz Leamy
Last Sunday was one for the books, as many of the most decorated and top-ranked players and teams in high-goal polo gathered at the Greenwich Polo Club to face off against one another in the hopes of taking home one of the sport’s most coveted prizes, the East Coast Open Perry Cup.
In the end, Global Student Accommodation (GSA), one of the most dominant teams of the 2017 GPC season, wound up at the top of the leaderboard, triumphantly edging out Team Audi, 10-9, in one of the most heated and dramatic showdowns of this illustrious 20-goal tournament, presented by the GPC and Audi of America and its 29 tri-state dealers.
Playing in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 5,000 spectators, the eight players on the two East Coast Open final teams, which included such icons as Mariano Aguerre, the venerable nine goaler, Matias Magrini, the powerful eight goaler, Mariano Gonzalez, the ever-solid seven goaler and Toro Ruiz Jorba, the much buzzed-about 18-year-old five goaler, knocked in a host of stunning shots as they flew around the expansive Conyers Farm field at high-octane speeds on their powerful charges.
Right at the outset of this match, the players and their ponies were performing at an optimal level, as they vied to claim the Perry Cup prize, further boosting the overall excitement and energy of this all-important showdown.
“You guys were warriors today and it makes me proud to present this award on behalf of the U.S. Polo Association,” said Joe Meyer, Chairman of the U.S. Polo Association (based in Lake Worth, Fla.) to the GSA contingent prior to presenting them with the Perry Cup at the awards ceremony.
GSA started out the match with a three-point lead due to their 17-goal handicap (Audi had a 20-goal handicap) and soon showed they were in good position to carry the proverbial ‘ball’ of the game based upon their excellent skill, strength and teamwork.
The four members of this contingent, Matias Magrini, his son, Santino Magrini, a three goaler, Henry Porter, the British one goaler and Toro Ruiz Jorba, the highest goal scorer of this year’s East Coast Open, moved in effective tandem with one another all throughout the match and played as if they were on a definite mission.
“I feel really good about today,” said Ruiz Jorba. “The team worked very well out there and to win is very nice.”
His teammates agreed.
“It was intense out there, but it was a game for everybody. Everyone played well,” said Matias Magrini, who was named Most Valuable Player of the match and also regarded as one of the GPC’s star ‘quarterback’ high goalers. “It was a pleasure to be out there on the field with everyone, including Mariano Aguerre, Mariano Gonzalez and Chris Brant and all of the other players of GSA. They were all MVPs today, in my opinion.”
Brant, the number one player of Team Audi and son of Peter Brant, the founder of the GPC and patron of White Birch, the 2016 East Coast Open champions, agreed it was an exciting match.
“We played really hard out there,” said Brant. “The [East Coast Open] tournament has been a big success and I think it’s been a great season here [at the GPC].”
Brant, along with Aguerre, who was inducted into the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame last February and whose charge, Machitos Tere, won Best Playing Pony; Francisco Rodriguez Mera, the four goaler; and Gonzalez, all put up a quite a fight against GSA and performed with great strength, skill and speed.
Ultimately, it seemed the real win for all of these athletes was to have the opportunity to be play in the finals of such an important and historic tournament, something that was apparent during the match and at the awards ceremony afterward.
At the awards presentation, members of both teams proudly stood on the podium as they accepted their awards, laughing and smiling amidst flying confetti and popping bottles of champagne, which made for a fun celebratory mood.
At the conclusion of this ceremony, the players, their families and many of their friends could be seen congratulating, hugging, and laughing with one another while chatting and taking pictures with fans, signing autographs and speaking with members of the media, indicating that they are indeed a close-knit community with many of the right values in place.
“It’s been great to play in this tournament. Everyone stepped up and did a fantastic job,” said Matias Magrini. “Also, to be here [at the GPC] has been terrific. It’s very beautiful and everyone is so nice.”
Certainly, Magrini’s sentiments seemed to be echoed by others at this match, particularly the spectators.
“This is a very special place. They always pull out all the stops, which is why I think so many of the players come back year after year, as do the spectators,” said Sable Roesch, Record Producer at Roesch Records in Darien, a devoted attendee of high-goal matches at the GPC. “The field is beautiful, the players and horses are amazing and the crowd is engaged. It’s a fantastic experience and I’m always a little bit sad when the season comes to an end.”