After having knocked out both regional finalists from last year, the Western and Central regions remained in the run to play the National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS) Championship Final for the Cecil Smith Cup on Sunday, September 2nd, at the Columbine Polo & Equestrian Center, in Littleton, Colorado.
Western (Riley Jordan, Jake Klentner, Bayne Bossom and Charlie Walker in Luke Klentner’s place) began the match with a one-and-a-half goal advantage due to the handicap difference. Central (Cipriano Echezarreta, Grayson Price, Vaughn Miller Jr. and Will Walton) came out swinging, but the Reds regained the lead to end the half 3.5-2.
Both teams played their strongest chukker after the half-time break, scoring myriad goals in the next two periods. With only half a goal separating the two teams, the Yellows managed to find the right moment to strike: a Penalty 4 in their favor. Grayson Price stepped to the line and took a shot he had much practiced, hitting a powerful, game-winning shot past the defenders to win the championship, with the score at 6-5.5 in favor of Central, who won their second Cecil Smith Cup.
The all new Girls’ All-Star Challenge, featuring eight of youth polo’s best up-and-coming females from across the country was played in line with the NYTS Championship. Team Black (Lila Bennett, Cory Williams, Jenna Tarshis and Olivia Uechtritz) managed to defeat Team White (Athena Malin, April Galindo, Hope Kerley and Anna Alworth) in both games, by 7.5-4 and 6.5-1 respectively.
Quotes from Littleton
Cipriano Echezarreta (Central)
“We had one practice prior to the game. Before that we had never played as a team together. But it worked! The final match was a really intense game. We scored the winning goal within the last minute and a half of game and it was a huge happiness to hear the bell.”
Grayson Price (Central)
“In the final penalty, one piece of advice Coach told me was when you get to the line don’t think at all. He said pretend it’s practice and you are hitting the ball for fun because it helps you to be more focused, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Cory Williams (Black)
“Every time you play with a new team you learn more about yourself as a player. 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.”