In Close Game, Mansour Wins Skins Final by Wide Margin0

Posted on April 1st, 2013 in News, Uncategorized

Although the overall score is no indication, Ben Soleimani’s Mansour polo team defeated Ron Mathison’s Highwood group by a total count of $20,000 to $4,000 in the 2013 Polo Skins Game on an absolutely perfect Easter Sunday afternoon in sunny Southern California. While the game score favored Mansour by just one at 13 – 12, two carryover victories for the rug people created the very wide financial gap.

Highwood entered the tournament with almost the same line up as 2012 – the winner of Mathison’s second straight Skins title. The only change was inserting Jake Stimmel to replace Jared Sheldon, whose handicap was raised. However, the team that played Sunday was much different than the one that started the tournament in early March. Marcello Rodriguez-Abbiati and Santiago Trotz played the entire month, but Mathison fractured his right shoulder in game one – scoring twice after the injury – and Jake Stimmel was hurt in a fall in the semi-final. As a result, the Canadian entry for Sunday’s final saw Scotty Cunningham and Doug Blumenthal step in to replace the injured players.

Mansour was able to show up on Sunday with almost the same team that started in early February – Soleimani, Santiago Wulff, and Santiago Von Wernich, with the only change being Patrick Uretz coming in for Remy Muller for March – and were able to play the entire Skins tournament intact.

Highwood started the first with a lightning like attack that saw Cunningham and Trotz score off the first two throw-ins. However, Wulff and Von Wernich responded with two quick counters of their own that tied the count at two. Cunningham grabbed another, but Soleimani ran one from 100 yards out and the first ended tied at three to create the first carryover of the afternoon.

Playing for $8,000 in the second saw Mansour jump out to a lead of two as Wulff and Von Wernich each scored again. A single goal by Highwood’s Trotz wasn’t enough and the Soleimani salesmen took the money out of the second ‘skin’.

The momentum that Mansour owned in the second carried over into the third chukker as Wulff counted twice and Uretz and Von Wernich scored once each to just an open goal conversion by Trotz and the third money of $4,000 was Mansours. At the half it was Mansour $12,000 and Highwood $0.

The strength that Mansour showed in the third was transferred to Highwood in the fourth as they responded in a large way. Trotz converted an open goal opportuity, scored two penalty fours, and along with one from Cunningham, scored from the field to lead by five. A single reply from Von Wernich was all that Mansour could muster and the $4,000 belonged to the Canadian team.

After two explosive chukkers, the fifth was rather quiet with just a pair of goals scored. Wulff for Mansour and Trotz for Highwood which created a carryover to the sixth where they would play for, once again, $8,000.

With a chance to win by a very large amout of cash, Mansour stormed out at the start of the final period as Wulff scored twice to lead early. Strong defensive play prevented Highwood from doing much to get even. Trotz scored another but that would be it and Soleimani and Co. had won the 19th annual contest by a staggering amount – in spite of the overall game count.

Von Wernich was selected as the MVP and Wulff’s mare, Ji Ji, was fitted with the Best Playing Pony blanket.

2013 Polo Skins Game

Mansour (12) – Ben Soleimani, Santiago Wulff 5, Santiago Von Wernich 5, Patrick Uretz 2.

Highwood (12) – Scotty Cunningham (replace inj. Ron Mathison), Doug Blumenthal (replace inj. Jake Stimmel) 2, Marcello Rodriquez-Abbiati 5, Santiago Trotz 5.

Tony Gregg