Klentner Ranch defeats newcomers Santa Clara in the final of the 2017 Belmond El Encanto Polo Classic, the season opener of the High Goal Season. With blue skies and a cool Pacific breeze rolling in off the ocean, it was an idyllic start to the summer. Six teams are slated to compete in the four tournament series.
Klentner Ranch is back with a repeat win, having won the Belmond El Encanto tournament last year with the same team, Geronimo Obregon, Jesse Bray, Facundo Obregon and Justin Klentner. Their opponents, Santa Clara are new to the 16 goal, but are frequent summer residents of Santa Barbara. Father/son combination of Luis Escobar and his father Francisco Escobar join Mariano “Nino” Obregon and Joaquin Panelo.
Bray drew first blood and got the ball rolling for the Klentner Ranch team, scoring the first goal of the match. L. Escobar quickly answered back for Santa Clara. A tap-in penalty 2 put Klentner Ranch on top at the end of the first chukker 2-1.
The goals came fast and furious in the second chukker as the young guns dominated the play. Four consecutive goals pushed Klentner Ranch ahead 6-1 at the end of the second chukker. Bray jumped on a racehorse, scoring three more times for the Klentner Ranch crew. An additional goal by Obregon gave Klentner a hearty lead, but Santa Clara fought their way back into the match. L. Escobar scored two fantastic goals from the field to revive their offensive momentum.
“Playing with this team has been a lot of fun because we all enjoy playing open polo. We try and use each player on the field so that we can spread the ball out. This is our second year playing together, so we hope to improve our record. We always play to win.” said Facundo Obregon about the style of play exhibited by his team in the first half of play.
A low scoring fourth chukker saw only one goal scored by each team. L. Escobar expertly put a goal through on the penalty line. With Bray and the Obregons covered up by the Santa Clara defense, Klentner took matters into his own hands scoring the final goal of the chukker to increase the Klentner Ranch lead to seven goals, 11-4.
Santa Clara pushed their defense hard in the fifth, holding Klentner Ranch scoreless. L. Escobar added a tally to the Santa Clara side with his fifth goal of the game.
Play was fast and evenly matched in the final chukker of the Belmond El Encanto Mayors Cup. Panelo converted a penalty two for Santa Clara early in the chukker, but G. Obregon quickly pushed Klentner Ranch forwards with a goal from the field. Brother Facundo Obregon put the final nail in the coffin with his sixth goal of the match. L. Escobar sliced a ball to goal one last time for Santa Clara, but the early lead created by Klentner Ranch proved to be impossible to surmount.
Bray was awarded MVP and his third chukker horse, “Curly” was named Best Playing Pony.