From the moment of the first throw in, the two teams battled for the ball, but it seemed each pass met an opposing player or a defensive mark for the first several minutes of play. Klentner Ranch drew first blood as Wulff swiftly scored the first goal from the field.
Farmers & Merchants Bank took control of the offense in the second chukker. Viana and Fassetta took turns launching the ball to Walker out front, scoring once from the penalty line and twice from the field in quick succession. Jake Klentner fought to put another tally on the board for his team, scoring the final goal of the chukker from the field to leave the score 3-2 in favor of FMB.
Wulff tied up the score 3-3 early in the third chukker from the penalty line, but Fassetta and Walker each scored again from the field giving FMB a two goal advantage to start the half time.
The fourth chukker began with a quick goal by Fassetta, pulling FMB further ahead 6-3. With a four goal deficit, Klentner Ranch fought to get to the goal, but were unable to find the goal posts sending several miscued shots over the end line. Wulff struck a cord of luck, scoring his third goal of the day. Fassetta quickly answered back, once again giving FMB a three goal lead.
A scoreless fifth chukker saw teams battle the length of the field, with five shots on goal going wide throughout the period. Bray came alive in the sixth scoring two goals from the field, giving Klentner Ranch a fighting chance. With time running low, a field goal by Viana and a penalty conversion by Wulff brought the score to within one. Time ran out before the ball hit the ground, giving Farmers & Merchants Bank the Lucchese Vic Graber Cup 8-7.
Viana, a member of Team USPA, is playing his second season in Santa Barbara and his first with FMB, “This is our first season together, so obviously finding the best system and team dynamic takes some work. However, we clicked immediately and did well in the first two tournaments, unfortunately losing two important games in OT (against a the strong US Polo Assn. Team) that knocked us out from reaching the final.
Finally, we powered through to a final, and eventually won the Lucchese Vic Graber Cup against the strong Klentner Ranch team. The key for us was to stick together with optimism, and make sure we all added our share throughout the game. That, plus our horse organizations, gave us the win.”
Parca, owned by Santi Wulff, was awarded her third Best Playing Pony award of the year. Leigh Breechen was named MVP.