The final of the 2017 Ylvisaker Cup was a thriller from the first play to the last, with Julio Arellano bringing it home for Coca-Cola in a 9-8 overtime win over Tonkawa.
Both teams had won their semifinal matchups against undefeated opponents in the 14-team Ylvisaker Cup tournament.
The Feb. 19 final on Engel & Völkers Field at the International Polo Club Palm Beach was a rugged contest. The game got off to a quick start with the first whistle not sounding until 5 minutes into the game. A fast-paced match saw both teams score one goal from the field in the first chukker. Sapo Caset opened the scoring for Tonkawa, and Wesley Finlayson finished off a Gillian Johnston run to tie the game at 1-1.
The second chukker heated up, resulting in a yellow flag for Coca-Cola and a penalty 2 conversion for Sapo Caset to give Tonkawa the lead. On the next throw-in, Caset hit a backshot from 50 yards into his own side. The ball found Facundo Obregon, who made a long run downfield, catching Finlayson on the foul right in front of the goal, resulting in a penalty 1 goal for Obregon on a 2-goal lead for Tonkawa. But Coca-Cola wasn’t going to let Tonkawa stretch the lead any further. Sapo Caset drove downfield, but Arellano stole the ball and ran it 180 yards through the goal to get back within one goal as the second chukker ended.
Tonkawa controlled play in the third chukker, with Jeff Hildebrand shooting at goal four times. Caset converted a penalty 3 chance to give Tonkawa a 2-goal edge once again. They stretched the lead even further when Caset picked up a pass from Obregon inside his own half and finished off the drive with a goal to give Tonkawa a 5-2 lead.
Coca-Cola answered with the team’s first penalty attempt of the day, which was a converted penalty 2 by Arellano, but the pressure from Tonkawa gave them problems. Costi Caset stole the ball from a knock-in and made a shot from 40 yards out to give Tonkawa the 6-3 lead going into halftime.
Coca-Cola came out firing in the fourth as Arellano converted a penalty 2. Then came back-to-back goals by Julian de Lusarreta and Finlayson as Coca-Cola quickly tied the game at 6-6. Another goal from the field by de Lusarreta at the end of the fourth chukker gave Coca-Cola its first lead of the game, 7-6.
Sapo Caset finally stopped the Coca-Cola run of four consecutive goals. He won a throw-in 60 yards out from goal and ran it in for his fifth goal of the day. Neither team produced penalty chances in the fifth chukker, and Coca-Cola missed three shot opportunities as the game remained tied at 7-7 heading into the sixth.
A foul by Coca-Cola resulted in a penalty 2 chance for Tonkawa, but Coca-Cola won a challenge to the play. However, Tonkawa proceeded to win the throw-in, and Caset shot from almost 60 yards to put his team back up, 8-7. Coca-Cola was stuck playing defense, committing four fouls in the sixth to Tonkawa’s one.
Inside the last minute, Arellano burst into a ride-off on Caset and hit a backshot to Johnston, who scored on a neck shot just before the 30-second warning horn. Costi Caset won the throw-in and took off on a breakaway, but time ran out just as he reached the 40-yard line, sending the game into overtime.
Coca-Cola executed a knock-in perfectly with Arellano finding de Lusarreta on a pass that sent him on a breakaway, but De Lusarreta was unable to convert the shot. After a missed opportunity from Tonkawa, Coca-Cola went back downfield, putting pressure on the Tonkawa defense. The result was a foul. Arellano converted the penalty 2 opportunity and handed the victory to Coca-Cola.
De Lusarreta was named MVP, and Caset’s Annie Negra was named Best-Playing Pony.
Earlier in the day, Equine Liquid Biocell won the Glenn Hart Memorial 11-10 over La Indiana. In the George Haas Cup, Mt. Brilliant defeated Goose Creek 11-10.
IPC now moves into its 26-goal season featuring the C.V. Whitney Cup.
The 2017 polo season runs through April 23 with a wide array of social options available each Sunday afternoon. For more info., visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.
ABOVE: The Coca-Cola team during the Ylvisaker Cup awards ceremony. Photo by David Lominska