7th September 2018 | USA
Eager to close the initial deficit with Western, Central came out swinging.
Knocking out both regional finalists from last year, the Western and Central regions remained to contest the National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS) Championship Final Cecil Smith Cup on Sunday, September 2, at Columbine Polo & Equestrian Center, LLC in Littleton, Colorado. NYTS created in 2013 keeping with player development in mind, is the first national outdoor tournament series for youth competitors. The tournament is designed to provide opportunities to the players to compete with and against peers.
Eager to close the initial deficit with Western gaining one-and-a-half goals on handicap, Central came out swinging. Vaughn Miller Jr.’s second shot on goal found its mark as the first goal of the day. Forcing his way through a pack of defenders at the goal mouth, Will Walton secured the second point, overtaking the lead by the end of the first chukker 2-1.5.
As the first half progressed, the Western players switched their strategy to simple man-to-man polo, implementing tactical defensive and offensive plays. Driving towards the goal with a Central defender poised for the hook, Western’s Riley Jordan operated as a true forward, nailing the neck shot and regaining the lead to end the half 3.5-2.
Both teams played their strongest chukker after halftime, firing goals immediately one after the other with renewed force and intentional attack. Picking up the ball left to him by Miller, Grayson Price opened the third with his first powerful run to goal, but was quickly matched by two back-to-back goals from the Western team.
With only the handicap deficit separating the two teams headed into the final chukker, Central knew they would have to strike fast and prevent Western from doing the same. With trailing into the fourth chukker, Central pulled together as a team and gained momentum in the final minutes to ultimately pull off a narrow victory 6-5.5 and their first championship title.
Grayson Price, Central’s player said, Our strategy was to simplify our polo more than we did in the semi-final so instead of turning we just hit a hard, straight back shot. It really helped because we made some breakaways and definitely got the ball moving which was key.