Cory Williams, Bayne Bossom, Jake Klentner, Luke Klentner and Charlie Walker compete in NYTS National Championship
Black’s Offensive Dominance Earns First Girls All-Star Challenge Title
United States Polo Association
Preceding the NYTS Championship Cecil Smith Cup Final was the all new Girls All-Star Challenge Final, featuring eight of youth polo’s best up-and-coming females from across the country. Qualifying by being selected as an All-Star at a National Youth Tournament Series Qualifier, these young women were the first group invited to play in an all-girls invitational tournament over Championship Weekend, created due to the growing trend of women in polo. After defeating White by three-and-a-half goals in their first game on Friday, August 28, Black was on track to win the tournament, determined by best record over the course of the two days. Black again came out on top with a decisive victory 6.5-1 and carried their winning offensive strategy into Sunday’s final,
Black put the pressure on from chukker one, adding a Penalty 2 conversion and field goal to their half goal awarded on handicap. Charging back and forth across the field, both teams struggled to put the ball through the posts in the second, each with several shots falling wide over the backline. In response to Black’s early intensity, White made a strong offensive push just before halftime, but despite their efforts the chukker ended 2.5-0 in favor of Black.
Unable to catch a break in the third, White was denied a successful goal at every turn, Athena Malin’s carefully aimed shot was deflected by a defender’s swift backshot. Capitalizing on every play and sticking to the man, Black added two more goals to their tally, Cory Williams expertly stealing the ball on the nearside to score. “Every time you play with a new team you learn more about yourself as a player,” Williams commented. “Only two of us had known each other prior to coming here, but we all ended up becoming really close by the end of the weekend.”
Entering the fourth and final chukker and still yet to put a point on the board, White was desperate to push past the strong offensive line. Her swing just missing the ball, Hope Kerley’s broken knock in resulted in another goal for Black. Rallying, White finally implemented a strategic team play, creating the opportunity for Kerley to score the single goal for her team. The power play came too late, however, and Black rode away with the win 6.5-1.
“It’s great to be part of this tournament as a coach because I get to give back to NYTS which I was a part of,” Black Coach Jim Wright* said. “We had a very balanced team who are all very aggressive with the man. They rotated well, got behind each other and put the pressure on like they have been playing together for a while. It’s not an easy thing to do and they fit together like a glove.”
The Girls All-Star Challenge Most Valuable Player was awarded to Cory Williams, contributing three pivotal goals in the final for Black. White's Athena Malin was selected for the Sportsmanship Award, Black's Olivia Uechtritz received the Horsemanship Award, and Best Playing Pony was presented to Polola, played by Hope Kerley and owned by Micaela Saracco.