The Return of Westchester Cup to American Soil for the first time since 1992
On the heels of last weekend's Junior Westchester Cup, Team USA entered the Westchester Cup determined to repeat the event.
On the heels of Junior Westchester Cup, Teams USA and England entered the Westchester Cup with a zeal to lift the historical cup at the International Polo Club. The historically significant Westchester Cup was first played in 1886 and has been played 18 times throughout its history, only five of which have taken place since World War II. The cup, created by Tiffany & Co., waged the historic challenge on the international stage of the U.S. Polo Assn. field. For Team England, Henry Porter, Ollie Cudmore, Jack Richardson, and Tommy Beresford came from across the sea to fight for the Westchester Cup. Team USA was represented by Mike Azzaro, Peke Gonzalez, Geronimo Obregon, and Jared Zenni.
Trading the goals in the first half, the two nations were eager to score in the fast-paced game from the onset. A controlled offensive attack led by Mike Azzaro and Peke Gonzalez for Team helped them gain the upper hand. Trying their best to defend the Westchester Cup, Richardson striked hard first on Rosita for England, which was retaliated by Peke Gonzalez as he converted a penalty and scored one field goal to put Team USA ahead. Leading 2 goals to 1, the American team held off British attack quite successfully as they defended three of their penalties by creating turnovers with an active defense. England restored the tie with 3-all, as Richardson and Cudmore scored the field goals for the team. Team USA had a strong hold on the penalty line and was deadly from the spot. Scoring 2 goals from the penalty line, Gonzalez helped Team USA maintain a lead after the third chukker ending the game at 5 - 3 at halftime.
“This was the first year that I a part of the organization that chose the team and it felt like these three guys were champions. To beat a team like England, who has beaten us several times, you have to have a champion team on the field and these guys were warriors who fought bravely for their side.”
An offensive battle ensued between the two teams in the fourth chukker and witnessed an exchange of four goals divided two each side. Responding to England’s goal from the penalty, Azzaro delivered an incredible goal from the tailshot, which marked his second goal of the day. The fight was getting intense as team England pushed towards the offense and Tom Beresford, leading the charge for the team, scored a goal to bring team England back in the picture. Jared Zenni assisted for a last minute goal which winded up the last chukker for Team USA with a lead of 8 goals to 6. Pressuring USA all over the field with their counter attack in the last chukker, The English team cut the lead with Cudmore scoring a brilliant field goal, bringing the score to 8 -7. The score was equalized by a penalty conversion and both the teams were tied at 8 - 8. With both teams unable to score the winning goal, the sixth chukker winded up at 8-all and the game was forced in the extra chukker. Dodging several close calls in their end zone at the start of overtime, team USA led their way past the defense and midfield of the opponents to score a goal and ended the game after Obregon confidently put the ball through the goal to wind up the match with the American victory of 9 goals to 8.
The Westchester Cup returned to American soil for the first time since 1992. Reflecting on the win, proud Coach Arellano said, “We needed to win the cup after having not won it since 1992. Especially since it was here, with a home field advantage, we had to have no excuse and no reason for not lifting the cup. Hats off to the English because it could have gone either way, so I’m very proud of the guys and their determination until the last minute of the game. Everyone stepped up played as a team which is all that I wanted. I wanted them to leave it all on the field and have no regrets.”
Scoring the golden goal in overtime, Geronimo Obregon was named the Most Valuable Player. Expressing his joy, obregon said, “A lot was going through our mind at that time all I said to myself in that moment was, ‘I have to make it, this is it!’ I just hoped for the best and it went in. My teammates played amazing and carried out the play perfectly.It could have been any one of us, I just happened to be the lucky one to make the last goal.”
Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Mike Azzaro’s Allie, a bay mare who he played in the second, fifth and overtime chukkers. “She is an appendix mare from Oklahoma and she’s been one of my top mares in the 26-goal for the last three years. I was asked to captain the Westchester Cup team and I said I only had three horses here, but I was able to lease horses and get organized.”