Cotterel Farms Hangs On to Win Governor’s Cup0

Posted on April 1st, 2015 in News

Gov Cup_blog

With the January 6 Goal Championship in hand, and the February 6 Goal Beal Memorial Trophy displayed on the mantel, one would think that Jenny Luttrell-Benardoni would have been satisfied with the 2015 winter season. Truth be known, she was probably very satisfied with the season. However, as successful as Cotterel Farms (Jenny Luttrell-Benardoni, Francisco Benardoni 1, Ignaccio Saracco 3, Charlie Petersen 2) had been in the first two months, there was one more prize to be had – the Pacific Coast Circuit Governor’s Cup Championship. While the first two months are important, everyone wants to be able to say that they won the Governor’s Cup – it’s special.

While some teams made line-up changes to prepare for the ‘Big One’, Cotterel remained intact and breezed through the qualifying rounds to arrive at the final. The opposition on the final afternoon would be Cheryl Schindel and her Centurions foursome (Cheryl Schindel -.5, Danny Walker 2, Luis Saracco 4,  Garrett Smith .5). After a rather shaky start to the winter season, Schindel and her polo manager Luis Saracco made some changes and brought in Walker and Smith – a move that ultimately gave them a shot at the big prize.

The start to the final was rather tentative and slow and as a result a number of fouls were committed that led to an inordinate number of free hits. The end result of all this was that Walker connected on a penalty three opportunity that would account for the only goal of the opener.

Not much changed in the first half of the second period and Walker, once again, connected on another three to give the Centurions a lead of two. As things sometimes happen, the flow opened up dramatically at that point as Cotterel started to gel. Ignacio Saracco was able to find the aggressive Luttrell-Benardoni free at the front and placed the ball perfectly for her and she then ran 175 yards to score. Schindel and Co. were able to recover with some running of their own and as a result, Luis Saracco was awarded a 60 yard free-throw that he nailed and the second was over with The Centurions ahead by a pair.

The third became more of the first as the pace reduced with a return to the tentative play. The result, however allowed Cotterel’s Saracco to convert three open goal shots and they were back in front with a lead of one. The Centurion’s Saracco scored from the field just before the half and it was four apiece at the break.

As the fourth got underway, it was apparent that the Colorado farmers had used the downtime well as the complexion of the game had changed in a big way to their favor. With Ignacio Saracco directing the much improved offence, Cotterel was all over the Centurions and, for the most part, the Northern Alberta group had difficulties getting out of their own end. The constant pressure culminated in field goals from Petersen and Saracco himself and Cotterel had a lead of two.

The fifth started much as the entire fourth before it, as the Cotterel offence continued to create the pace – fast and exciting. The result was once again field goals – this time Saracco had a pair and the lead was now four goals at 8 – 4. At this point in time, it seemed as if it was all over. And it might have been, but Luis Saracco, for the Centurions, stepped in and started to make things happen. Some suggested sibling rivalry – who knows? What is known is that the Centurions came alive, and to a man/woman, started to play the kind of polo that brought them to this tournament final. With the change, Saracco scored from the field and the Centurions, trailing by ‘just’ three, had hope.

In the early sixth Saracco was unstoppable as he twice scored from the field and the Centurions were now down by only one. By this time, Cotterel had apparently started to figure things out once again, as they regained the attitude and abilities that gave them such a comfortable lead earlier. The result was control of the play and as such the Centurion’s momentum had been quelled. However, with less than a minute left, and with play deep in the Centurion end, Petersen gained control of the ball and sent it over the side with a force deemed to be excessive. As a result and with 41 seconds on the clock, the Centurions were awarded a penalty five from the spot about 45 yards out from their own end line. Luis Saracco was able to carry the play within 100 yards of the Cotterel goal but that was going to be it as the ball hit the boards and it was over. Luttrell-Benardoni and Cotterel Farms had capped a wonderful season by winning the 2015 Pacific Coast Governor’s Cup by a score of 8 – 7.

Ignacio Saraccco was selected as the Most Valuable Player and his mare, Fantasma, went back to the barn wearing the Best Playing Pony blanket.

Tony Gregg