On Saturday, July 23rd, arena polo players from all over California came to San Diego to participate in the Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament, attracting over 45 players in just one day. The Pacific Coast Arena Polo League is a summer polo competition. Players have the opportunity to compete throughout the season at five different clubs for points. Those points tally, and high points earn season-end awards. It’s a fun way for all of the arena players in southern California to get together for a full day of polo. From our Interscholastic teenaged players to our best A-rated players, the day was action packed with some of the most amazing arena polo you’ll ever see. Some of the other clubs represented were OC Polo, Central Coast Polo, California Polo Club, Lakeside Polo and Poway Polo.
The day started off with an A-flight round robin between Moonshine Polo Team (Julie Empey, Jeff Trout, Jennifer Alexy), Poway/OC (Skyler Dale, Ian Schnoebelen, Forest Smith), and Justice League (Ali Mobtaker, Niki Mobtaker, Andrew Scott). Final score: Justice League 6, Poway/OC 5 and Moonshine 1. Sportsmanship went to Julie Empey, MVP to Skyler Dale and Best Playing Pony to Ian Schnoebelen’s horse Secret.
Next up was the B-Flight round robin between Ludwig Polo (Sri Mummaneni, Dawson Ludwig, Troy Crumley), CCPC (Alyssa Garcia, Hannah Heitzig, Megan Judge) and Top View (Chuck Stanislowski, Lovive Laverdure, Alenya Chekhova). Final Score: CCPC 14, Top View 10, Ludwig Polo 9. Sportsmanship went to Chuck Stanislowski, MVP to Megan Judge, and Best Playing Pony to Lovive Laverdure’s horse Secret.
In the afternoon, the B Flight match up between OC Polo (Mila Herrera, Shelley Geiler, Heather Perkins, Kelli Newton) and CPC (JP Coghill, Katty Wong, Kirsten Ludwig) was a high scoring match. CPC won the match 12 to 8. Sportsmanship went to Shelley Geiler, MVP to Kirsten Ludwig, and Best Playing Pony to Kelli Newton’s horse Zenardi.
The C Flight Team Mystical Moose (Jack Empey, Drew Hobscheid, Kylie Kufahl and Paige Kufahl) played CPC 2 (Sonia Couling, Frances Bryson, Barry Nadell and substitute JP Coghill). After a minor injury, Nadell stepped out and JP Coghill subbed in his place. Mystical Moose scored 13, with just 1 for CPC2. Sportsmanship went to Sonia Couling, MVP to Drew Hobscheid (with 10 goals!), and Best Playing Pony to Paige Kufahl’s horse Bella.
Three’s Comany (Matt Davis, Lauren Helpern, Kelly Davis, Colleen Newton) and Poway/San Diego (Gillian Young, Larry VanderPloeg, Bryan Treusch) battled it out in the 4:00pm C Flight. Three’s Company won 8 to 5. Sportsmanship went to Larry VanderPloeg, MVP to Matt Davis, and Best Playing Pony to Bryan Treusch’s horse Coneja.
The last match of the evening was a C Flight match between OC/San Diego (Leo Diaz, Emma Hobscheid, Miriam Ellis, Jack Gaon, Hudson Sirjani) and Rebel Polo (Mikayla Chapman, Shayna Chapman, Gwenyth Bennett, Nicole Johnson, Michael Proulx). Keep in mind, some of these players were splitting positions and we always play 3 on 3. OC/San Diego won 13 to 3. Sportsmanship went to Shayna Chapman, MVP to Leo Diaz and Best Playing Pony to Nicole Johnson’s third chukker horse.
Arena polo is often mistaken as less exciting and more condensed than grass polo. If you take just one quick moment to watch some chukkers of some A rated players, you’ll very quickly realize how scrappy, exciting, action packed and different Arena polo is from grass polo. It’s amazing just how different the entire game can be within the 100×50 yard field. You can often use the wall or boards of the arena as a “4th man” in your chukkers, using it for your team, or against the other team. You can smack the ball against the boards at an angle to change the line of the ball to pass to a teammate, something you can’t really do in grass unless you hit it low enough to bounce it off the red boards on the ground. The close contact in the arena is extremely exciting, sometimes looking more like a demolition derby instead of Formula One racing. Most of the same rules still apply in either game – grass or arena – but the strategy tends to be much different.
While hitting and carrying the ball tends to be much easier on the grass, since most people prefer to play golf on the green instead of the sand pits, imagine just how much more skill you might need to “play golf in the sand pits” all the time? The arena ball tends to glance off mounds of sand or mud, or get stuck in hoof holes created by the galloping horses. But to develop enough skill to work around that and STILL be a dynamite polo player, I’d say that’s a mission worth trying, and a feat often underestimated and overlooked. With the deck stacked against you in getting the ball to move anywhere in a straight line, you might argue that arena polo is harder.
New players may rush themselves through Arena as their end game or end goal might be to play on the grass. Take one look at an arena tournament and you are in for one hell of a ride. You can see Everything right up close, you can hear the grunts of the horses, hear the clanking of stirrups during a ride off, see all the action up close from wherever you’re standing – it’s easier to see every detail. Get ready to duck out of the way of a ball flying out of bounds!
The next time you hear about an arena tournament at SD Polo, come on down and check it out. It’s really an amazing display of expertise horsemanship, and expert ball-mallet handling, turning in tight circles, dribbling the ball to keep it away from a fast approaching opponent. It has non-stop ride-offs, precision maneuvers within the small space… it is a RUSH!
Thank you to USPA third man umpire Rick Sears, Julie Empey, Stacy Egusa, Lindsey Chronert, Tim Empey, Ashton Wolf and the entire San Diego Polo team for putting together a fun tournament. Another big thank you to everyone who came out to the polo fields to play and support our arena programs! We love hosting visitors and opening our doors to different players of all levels. We hope you enjoyed your time at SD Polo, its picturesque setting, and hopefully you made it down to watch our Sunday Matches!