Newport vs. Pittsburgh Match Report

Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Clad in steely grey with flecks of gold, the Pittsburgh players threw down the gauntlet against Newport’s red & white on Saturday, July 17, as the challenger fought to break the home team’s winning streak. Fans from far and wide descended on the Newport International Polo Grounds to witness the rivalry unfold under the midsummer sun.

As field-side picnics were perfected, tailgates teeming with tasteful hors d'oeuvres, spectators took advantage of the sunny weather to engage in competitive Cornhole face-offs. For the full New England experience, Newport Chowder served up classic seafood chowder to locals and visitors alike. Additionally, A Mano Pizza, Wally’s Hot Dogs, Stoneacre Brasserie, Hawaiian Jim’s, and Chelsea’s Creamery spoiled patrons with their choice of delicious summer staples. Canines of all sizes, from playful pups to giant mountain dogs, accompanied their owners on-leash as they shopped handmade jewelry in the Vendor Village, sipping a frozen drink from the bar to beat the heat.  

Eager to begin the much-awaited match, the teams rode onto the field shoulder-to-shoulder in a display of camaraderie and sportsmanship. Newport was fronted by #1 Laurel Howe, followed by birthday reveler Leo Mejia at #2, Tim Day at #3, and veteran player Dave Bullis playing back as #4. For the Steel City, Alex Burkland played forward at #1, former Newport player, now Pittsburgh transplant, Lauren Bilsky, returned to the Ocean State at #2, Stewart Burkland played #3, and Captain Justin Powers commanded the team at #4.

The game began with the official coin toss, presided by Modern Luxury Boston’s Jean Roberts, setting off the 6th duel between these east coast rivals. Both teams were eager to fend off the opponent’s advances, leading to a scoreless first chukker. As commentator William Crisp remarked, the first goal is always the hardest. Once Stewart Burkland broke through with a goal in the second chukker, Pittsburgh kept the ball rolling with a goal from Justin Powers and another by S. Burkland. Newport attempted to stop Pittsburgh’s scoring surge, but S. Burkland was too quick and sent his third goal of the game flying through the goalposts with 5 minutes to the half. As the crowds poured onto the field for the half-time Divot Stomp, Pittsburgh relished its 4 – 0 lead.

During the break, judges patrolled the field as they hunted for the most festive picnic to receive the Stella Artois Best in Show Prize. Underneath the Scottish flag, a tailgate draped in Red & White took home the prize, customized tailgate essentials from Stella Artois. Fog rolled over the historic Glen Farm, granting the afternoon’s competition a dramatic setting and spectators a respite from the July sun. In the Pavilion, Modern Luxury Polo Lounge guests topped off their glasses with signature drinks from The Cocktail Guru, as polo ponies and players returned to the field.

Newport returned from the break emboldened and ready to attack. Dynamic Tim Day bookended the fourth chukker with two goals for Newport, finally putting the Red & White on the board. Incredibly, while Pittsburgh was reeling from the 4th chukker rain, Day doubled Newport's score with two more goals in the 5th! The rivals entered the final chukker tied 4 – 4. In usual Newport vs. Pittsburgh fashion, this would come down to the wire. In a rush of energy, Dave Bullis opened the sixth chukker with a goal for Newport and Day followed his lead with another goal of his own. Now down 6 – 4 with just over three minutes to go, Justin Powers stepped up to the plate and scored for the Steel City to narrow the gap. It looked as if Pittsburgh might be able to come back and squeeze out their first victory in the Newport International Polo Series, but a final goal from Bullis with one minute left in regulation play proved to be the nail in Pittsburgh’s coffin. Yet another neck-and-neck game for the rivalry ended in Newport’s favor, 7 – 5.

After the final buzzer, the teams took to the prize-giving platform, autographing Polo balls for young fans along the way. Charles Lomnitzer of TD Bank presented the perpetual trophy to Newport and the home team raised it above their heads for the sixth time against Pittsburgh. Newport Captain Dave Bullis popped the Veuve Cliquot, sharing a festive toast with Pittsburgh players after a fun and hard-fought game. The Newport win left a buzz in the air, and fans congregated at the Patio Bar afterward to dance the night away with the players.

View the Photo Album.  Match report photo (above) by Michele Almeida.

In accordance with RI State reopening guidelines, capacity limits have been lifted at the polo grounds, resuming historic seating options, while some conservative measures remain in place, including reduced hours and carry in carry out trash after a successful strategy approved last year through the pandemic, when live audiences could still enjoy the Newport International Polo Series polo matches every Saturday as they have for 30 years to witnessed the timeless sport unfold on the manicured, emerald green at Glen Farm, home of the Polo Series, in a classic exhibition of horsemanship and valor, with host, the Newport Polo Club, where the home team - Newport/USA - meets challengers each season from around the world and as well as teams representing major US cities and regional rivals in one of Newport's unique traditions & renown attractions.  

The Polo Series is scheduled to continue every Saturday through September. The schedule of teams is subject to change without notice, as per RI State mandates and US travel bans which may impact travel and Adult Sports.  Stay current with the 2021 team lineup & stats, latest news, events, and more by e-scription to the Gameday Briefing (sign up) and weekly eMagazine (sign up). Both subscriptions are private and spam-free.

The Polo Grounds' favorable proximity to the shores of the island's Sakonnet east passage provides reliably cool coastal effects, moderating afternoon temperatures and providing a dependable breeze for the late afternoon polo matches all summer.  Minutes from the bustling Newport waterfront, the International Polo Grounds are located on the acreage of Glen Farm, 250 Linden Lane (off of Rte. 138) in Portsmouth, RI. This bucolic setting is the last 100 acres of a pre-colonial settlement from the 1600’s that became the Town of Portsmouth's original gentlemen's farm, an 800-acre manorial estate established during a Gilded Age movement of retreat from the high life into pastoral country acres, to become the future home of polo in the next century. Its classical 19th century stone barns and its park-like grounds were rehabilitated by Polo Series founder, Dan Keating in the early 1990’s and continue to thrive as an equestrian & community recreational property, and home of the Polo Series.  

The Newport International Polo Series is proud to roll out its 2021 sponsors including Brenton HotelDavitt Inc.TD BankTurkish AirlinesModern Luxury BostonHerb Chambers ExoticsVanderbilt International PropertiesHotel VikingVeuve ClicquotPolo House PrivéClarke Cooke HouseStella Artois, US Polo AssociationGoslingsROCKSTAR LimoMcGrath Clambakes and CateringClassical 95.9 WCRI, and promotional partners including Newport Helicopter ToursThe Cocktail GuruHannoush JewelersNewport Jaguar ToursInternational Tennis Hall of FameNewport MansionsNewport Music FestivalIsland Surf and SportNortheast Equestrian LifeNewport Sport Fishing Charters, and Audrain Automobile Museum.

“Our sponsors have been with us since the beginning. Without their support, the Series would not be as extensive as it is,” explains Dan Keating, Polo Series founder.

This is the 30th season of Newport International Polo Series, which has hosted teams from 35 nations including, Ireland, Germany, Spain, England, Argentina, France, Egypt, India, Australia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Canada, Chile, Jamaica, Nigeria, Portugal, New Zealand, Barbados, Scotland, South Africa, Hungary, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Kenya, Brazil, China, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Singapore, Monaco, Morocco, Peru, Poland, and Switzerland.

Keep Calm and Polo On.  Newport Polo was the first and only live sporting event to win State approval and navigate safely through the pandemic last year.  Since 600 b.c., polo, the world's oldest ball game, has withstood the tests of time throughout its storied history. First recorded in the 6th century b.c. when the Turkomans beat the Persians in a diplomatic tournament, the alluring game caught on with equestrian royalty and cavalry, and took off with globalization. By the time Polo arrived on Newport’s shores during the Gilded Age, the sport was nearly 2500 years steeped in tradition, captivating newcomers like Newport's summer sporting set who embraced the new pastime, establishing America's first polo club in 1876.  A charter member of the United States Polo Association the club today is still a trailblazing polo club, hosting the Newport International Polo Series public exhibition matches, supporting philanthropic causes, organizing tournaments, polo club member services, and polo instruction year-round. Experience the king of games in its American landing at Newport Polo.