Going head-to-head in a passionate final to decide the winner of the 2018 Joe Barry Cup, undefeated teams Tonkawa and Modere met Sunday, Jan. 28 to settle the score at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington. Although Modere played with renewed energy and strategy in the second half, Tonkawa’s unity proved insurmountable, and the team rode away with the title 12-9.
Eager to get on the board, Sterling Giannico nailed a fast backshot to goal, capitalizing on Modere’s broken play at the goal mouth and scoring first for Tonkawa. As the first half progressed, it was clear that Tonkawa was working as a well-orchestrated team, shutting down Modere’s offensive threat of 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa at every opportunity.
Goals continued to elude Modere with several missed shots both on the field and from the penalty line, ending the second chukker 5-1 in favor of Tonkawa. Determined to get Tonkawa’s early lead under control, the third chukker saw aggressive play, leading to the third yellow card of the day against Ulloa. Fighting every stride for a second goal, Ulloa finally caught a lucky break and ran to goal while teammate Jared Zenni held off two strong defenders. Tripling the scoreboard at halftime 6-2, Tonkawa would see a different Modere return to challenge them in the second half.
Finding their footing, Modere kicked their game into high gear with four additional goals in the fourth chukker. Slowly creeping up the scoreboard, Ulloa converted two penalty shots in the fifth for the ultimate comeback, tying the score 8-8. Matching Julian De Lusarreta’s attempt to break the tie, Modere leveled the scoreboard again 9-9 heading into the final chukker. Ultimately, the “green machine” powered by Sapo Caset could not be stopped, scoring eight out of Tonkawa’s 12 total goals, just above his goals per game tournament average of 6.5.
In a final that became a battle between the two 10-goal captains, Caset led his team to victory.
“Modere was really tough. We controlled the first half, but I think they had a really strong fourth chukker, and they came back into the game,” Caset said. “At that point, it was anyone’s game. It was really tight, and they fought hard; Hilario is really tough. In the last chukker, we got the advantage and were able to keep it.”
The Joe Barry Memorial Cup, started in 2005, honors polo legend Joe Barry, who passed away in 2002. Appropriately, Tonkawa’s home base is in Houston, and with Barry originally from Texas, the title will return to his home state. In honor of her late husband, Sharon Barry presented awards at the tournament final. Most Valuable Player was awarded to Tonkawa’s Caset. Best Playing Pony honors went to Lavinia Castellana, Ulloa’s six-year-old homebred mare.
Next up in the 2018 high-goal polo season is the Ylvisaker Cup. For more information about the International Polo Club Palm Beach, visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.