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Tournament Report: USPA Circuit Women's Arena Challenge 2022

2022 Autumn Arena Polo Competition

Date: Tuesday, November 8, 2022

NORTHEASTERN CIRCUIT WOMEN'S ARENA CHALLENGE 3 - 6 goal
Host Club | Westchester Polo Club - Newport County, Rhode Island | Nov 5-6
Final Score: 12-5 Winner: Stage Hill Polo (Elizabeth Sawicki, Finn Guenther, Amanda Roberts)
MVP: Finn Guenther
Best Playing Pony: Tallulah ridden by Amanda Roberts
Runners-up:
2nd Place: Mad Mouse Polo (Launi Perrault, Ava Richard, Hanalei Streuli, Minnie Keating)
3rd Place: The Avery ( Touba Ghadessi, Becca Nordstrom, Megan Schulz)
4th Place: Tenacious Divas ( Leslie Streuli, Meg Stowe, Aurelia Rus)
Photo cutline: from left - Stage Hill Polo's Amanda Roberts, Finn Guenther, Elizabeth Sawicki

REPORT

Newport Polo welcomed the return of competitive women's polo in an autumn fixture, the fourth annual USPA NE Circuit Women's Arena Challenge (3-6 goal) arena polo tournament. Four teams stepped up for the challenge, of varying handicaps from among the Northeastern Circuit of women polo players, assembling on the first weekend of Nov 5-6 at Newport Polo's private arena training center in Newport County to make their bid for $2500 in prize money, mantlepiece trophies, winners names etched onto the perpetual trophy and a yearbook page in the United States Polo Association annual blue book to live on in polo history.

USPA Circuit Tournaments present an ideal forum for regional competition, for polo players looking to continue their season of competitive polo after the grass season has ended, while conditions are ideal to still travel and play outdoors during the best time in New England. Mild temperatures, sunny and dry conditions and lingering Autumn foliage color was the backdrop for a weekend of competition.  

A random draw took place during weekday chukkers in the days before the tournament began to determine Saturday's Semi Final Round match-ups.  As a result, Semi Final I on Saturday featured The Avery in maroon jerseys fielding Touba Ghadessi, Becca Nordstrom and Megan Schulz against Stage Hill Polo's Elizabeth Sawicki, Finn Guenther and Amanda Roberts in white, for a 4-chukker single elimination match, where the winner would advance to the Championship.  With Stage Hill rated 6 goals and The Avery rated 5 goals, 1 equalizing point was awarded on the scoreboard to The Avery at the outstet by USPA umpire Juan Carlos Gonzales who officiated over the 4-chukker opening round match, during which the stronger Stage Hill team jumped out to a big early lead that held up through all four periods, 6-1, 8-4, 9-6 and 11-8, despite a strong fight from The Avery, who outscored Stage Hill in the 2nd and 3rd period and matched goal for goal in the 4th chukker. High scorers in the match were Roberts with 10 goals, and Nordstrom & Schulz each with 3 goals.

Semi Final Game II opposed Mad Mouse Polo's Launi Perrault, Ava Richard and Minnie Keating in pink jerseys against Tenacious Diva's Leslie Streuli, Meg Stowe and Aurelia Rus in blue jerseys for another single elimination 4-chukker contest in which Tenacious Divas started with 2 points on handicap and came out swinging, including a 2-pointer by Rus, for a 5-3 lead, but Mad Mouse's unanswered 6 goals in the 2nd chukker tilted the scale in their favor 9-5, and held up despite equal scoring by each team in the remaining 2 chukkers,11-7 and 12-8. High scorers were Keating with 7 points and Rus with 6.

On Day 2, the Runner Ups The Avery and Tenacious Divas lined up at the center of the arena at 1PM for the Consolation Round, to determine 3rd and 4th place. Umpire Juan Carlos bowled the ball into play, with 2 handicap points on the scoreboard for the Divas to counterbalance the strength of The Avery, but was no match for the amped up Avery players, who stacked up 8 points, bolstered by Nordstrom's 2-pointer, to the Diva's 2 in the first chukker, for an 8-4 start.  Scoring in the 2nd chukker was dead even, to end the half 10-6, only to have a repeat shelling by The Avery in the 3rd, 16-6 and 4th chukkers for the 20-7 3rd place overall finish by The Avery. High scorers were Ghadessi Schulz with 8 points and Rus with 4 points.

Finalists, Stage Hill Polo and Mad Mouse Polo lined up at 3:30pm for the Championship match, well after the dust settled in the earlier match.  Mad Mouse started with 1 handicap point, and earned an additional point from a Penalty 1, to Stage Hill's 3 goals in the opening chukker to assume a 3-2 lead.  Mad Mouse took the lead in the 2nd period, including a 2-pointer by Keating, 5-4. Stage Hill led a counter attack in the 3rd chukker with 5 unanswered points to reassert a 9-4 lead, and then widened the gap in the final chukker including a 2-pointer by Roberts, for the Stage Hill win 12-6. High scorer was Roberts with 9 goals.

Winners Trophies were presented to Stage Hill Polo; MVP was Finn Guenther, while Tallulah, ridden by Amanda Robert's 3rd chukker, won Best Playing Pony. Stage Hill took home $1,500 in prize money and Mad Mouse Polo received $1,000.  Inaugurated in 2019, the perpetual USPA Circuit Arena Women's Champions Cup will be engraved with Stage Hill players names as its newest champions, and likewise the tournament winners will have a dedicated page in the USPA annual yearbook (past winner p.432). An album of images is published on Facebook; Video footage of the games are published on Newport Polo's Youtube channel at this link.

Newport Polo is grateful to the United States Polo Association for its support through tournament stimulous initiatives, and thanks the competitors for their participation, as well as the dedicated staff and club volunteers for their collective efforts in producing the event.

Players have been tuning up across the concentrated Northeast hub of polo clubs since the beginning of October - which marks the annual transition from grass polo to arena polo - including at Newport Polo where competition is in high gear at the Club's outdoor arena & training facility in Newport County, Rhode Island.   The regulation outdoor polo arena has professional footing, grading and night lighting for arena polo 6 days per week in October, November and into December until the ground freezes, with lessons, chukkers, scrimmages, official games and tournaments for club members, intercollegiatae and interscholastic teams and up and coming new players.

Newport Polo's tournaments and arena polo season continue as Friendly Competition beckon during the Autumn Arena Polo season, with the annual Thanksgiving Cup still ahead.  Sign up to stay current on the Club's upcoming polo activities and get in the game!

About Newport Polo:  Newport Polo is the home of the Westchester Polo Club, America’s first polo club est. 1876, and a charter member of the United States Polo Association, offering public exhibition matches, polo club membership, and polo instruction year-round. The founding members hailed mostly from Westchester County, NY, established the club's summer headquarters and polo grounds in Newport, RI where its members annually convened for summer recreation. The original club, based in Newport, is credited for organizing the world's first international polo competition, the Westchester Cup, and remained active until 1929. The Westchester Polo Club was revived in 1992 by President and USPA Delegate, Dan Keating. Known today as Newport Polo, the Club supports a vibrant polo training program, developing players in weekly polo lessons with open enrollment for new players, as well as membership for club chukkers and tournaments in spring, summer, and autumn. Click Here to read & subscribe for the weekly polo schedule with opportunities to play for all levels!  Newport Polo is also home to the Brown University Polo Team, and the Newport Varsity & JV Interscholastic Teams. Newport Polo also hosts the Newport International Polo Series, a popular summer exhibition series held annually on Saturdays, June - September.