University of Virginia and University of Western Ontario Advance to Men’s Semifinals of 2016 USPA National Intercollegiate Polo Championship
UVA Gallops by Westmont 19-10, as Western Ontario Edges Miami 14-13 in Quarterfinals of Tournament Play
The United States Polo Association (USPA) National Intercollegiate Polo Championship yesterday kicked off the opening round of matches at the University of Connecticut’s Horsebarn Hill Arena. The six Men’s teams and four Women’s teams are competing for the chance to make history in the Championship Games this Saturday, April 9.
Leading off the tournament’s Quarterfinal matchup, the Southeastern Regional Champions University of Virginia (3) squared off against the Western Regional Champions, Westmont College (6).
After a slow start, UVA’s Felipe Gomez notched two goals, as Westmont’s Tony Uretz answered back with a field goal. UVA headed into the end of the first chukker with a 5-1 lead, following three back-to-back goals from Aristide Faggionato. Heading into the second chukker, UVA continued to pad its lead, recording seven additional goals to Westmont’s three. Westmont rallied behind Uretz and Michael Esparza, who contributed a combined five goals in the third chukker, while holding UVA to two additional scores. UVA secured its 19-10 victory in the fourth chukker, scoring a convincing five goals to Westmont’s one.
“The men had a very exciting game against a team and a coach we have a lot of respect for,” said Coach Lou Lopez, University of Virginia. “We hope to learn a lot from this win and take it to the next two games and win a National Championship.”
To conclude the first day of match play, the University of Western Ontario (5) and the University of Miami (4) took to the arena for a thrilling back-and-forth battle. A historically formidable team winning the Men’s Intercollegiate Championships four consecutive years (1948-1951), Miami was looking to reclaim its position as an elite intercollegiate polo team behind Team USPA members Jarred Zenni and Jonny Lavine.
Western Ontario jumped out to an early lead behind CJ Sifton capitalizing on a penalty 2, which was answered by a two-pointer from Lavine. With back-and-forth scoring from both teams, Miami finished the first chukker with a one goal advantage. Zenni led off the second chukker with three unanswered field goals, as Western Ontario’s Kingsley Ward added a goal. Coming out of the half trailing 7-4, Western Ontario capitalized on two, two-pointers along with two penalty shots from Andrew Begg to take an 11-10 lead. After padding its lead to four, Western Ontario held off Miami’s last minute heroics to secure a 14-13 victory.
“Another nail biter!” said Coach Scott Weir, University of Western Ontario. “Thanks to Miami for a great game. We’re looking forward to facing a great team from perennial powerhouse, Texas A&M. We’re excited to play in the semis at Nationals!”
On Thursday, April 7, the University of Western Ontario will square off against Texas A&M University in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m. With a first-round bye, the Texas A&M Men’s team will be looking to improve upon its second place finish in 2015 after falling to Colorado State. University of Virginia will look to carry its momentum into the semifinal round against Cornell University on Thursday, April 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Tournament action continues today with the Women’s semifinals. The 2015 defending champions, Cornell University, takes on California Polytechnic State University at 10:00 a.m., and University of Virginia faces Texas A&M University at 12:00 p.m.