In a season-long test of attrition and skill, four months of fierce competition culminated in the anticipated NPC-16 Goal Championship, hosted by the National Polo Center – Wellington on BTG Pactual Field 2. Four prestigious national tournaments held across South Florida from January to April served as qualifiers for the main event.

Narrowing the competition throughout the season from 17 contending teams, the final showdown featured a match-up between Ylvisaker Cup champions Clearwater (Joaquin “Pelo” Vilgre La Madrid, Raul “Gringo” Colombres, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, Camp Campbell) and Joe Barry Memorial victors Forbes Plunkett (Brandon Plunkett, Nicolas “Nico” Escobar, Felipe “Pipe” Vercellino, Lucas Escobar). Intensely competitive 16-goal polo, penalty conversions proved the deciding factor of the game. Equal in field goals, Clearwater capitalized from the penalty line in the first half accumulating a four-goal lead. In the second half, the tide turned in favor of Forbes Plunkett, Vercellino sinking five goals from the penalty line to edge past the competition 13-12 for the NPC-16 Goal Championship title.

Earning qualifying victories in both the Joe Barry Memorial with Forbes Plunkett and the Outback Cup alongside team owner Ben Ketchum for Copperline Farms, the trio of Vercellino and the Escobar brothers elected to compete with Forbes Plunkett in the NPC 16-Goal Championship. Reunited with Plunkett for the first time since their 4-1 Joe Barry Memorial run in January, Forbes Plunkett faced-off against La Fe/Dazos (David Farache, Kristos “Keko” Magrini, Francisco Elizalde, Louis Devaleix), claiming their spot in the semifinals based on season points earned throughout the qualifying rounds and team availability.

Trailing by one at the half, Forbes Plunkett began their comeback on a three-goal run in the fourth. Featuring three players competing in the Gauntlet of Polo, Magrini carried La Fe/Dazos’ efforts from the field, as Elizalde hit a key Penalty 3 to take the lead with moments remaining in regulation. Seemingly destined for a second semifinal overtime, a brilliant pass from Vercellino to an undefended Nico Escobar escorted the ball across the line with just seconds left on the clock to earn the electrifying 10-9 victory.

A reenergized Forbes Plunkett dominated the fourth chukker, rallying to earn four goals including back-to-back drives from Lucas Escobar, finishing with a spectacular angled neckshot to tie the match 8-all. Eliciting an eruption of cheers from Forbes Plunkett’s support section led by Georgette Escobar, Plunkett.

Colombres and Diaz Alberdi continued to lead the way for Clearwater, as back-to-back conversions from Vercellino and a field goal from Nico Escobar sent Forbes Plunkett into the final chukker ahead by one. Trading goals from Vercellino on the line and Colombres from the field, the collective effort of Forbes Plunkett’s commanding second half pressure overcame Clearwater’s final push to deliver the 13-12 victory.