22nd November 2018 | USA
Casablanca and FlexJet faced each other for the first time in the tournament
The National Twenty Goal, one of the most important tournaments of the US Polo Association was played from November 16-18, 2018 at the Grand Champions Polo Club. The finals of the 20-goal tournament saw Casablanca play against FlexJet in a nail-biting match. Casablanca, the previous year winners played to defend their title while FlexJet, on the other hand, played to win the title. In a tightly contested game, Casablanca played with Grant Ganzi, Whistle Uys, Julio Gracida and Pablo Spinacci. FlexJet had Melissa Ganzi, Jeff Blake, Jason Crowder and Juan Bollini playing for the team.
Casablanca and FlexJet played against for the first time in the tournament. Casablanca opened with a one-goal lead on handicap. Not many goals were scored in the first two chukkers. The score after the first chukker was 2-1. Casablanca scored the only goal of the second chukker and the score after chukker 2 was 3-1. Jeff Blake's three goals helped FlexJet level the scores at 4-4 after the third chukker. Two goals from the Most Valuable Player, Pablo Spinacci helped Casablanca regain their lead. Casablanca were leading by 7-6 after the fourth chukker. FlexJet were not ready to give up as goals from Jason Crowder and Jeff Blake helped FlexJet get ahead in the game. The score after the fifth chukker was 8-7 with FlexJet in the lead.
A goal from Grant Granzi for Casablanca at the 2:15 mark levelled the scores at 8-8. Casablanca scored one more to get ahead in the game. The score was 9 - 8 after the goal. Whistle Uys scored one more goal to extend Casablanca’s lead. The score was 10 - 8 when Melissa Ganzi converted a 30-yard penalty to trail by one with 3:48 left. The score was 10 - 9 after the penalty. The match could go in either direction but a late goal from Julio Gracida ensured the victory for Casablanca. Casablanca won the National Twenty Goal after defeating FlexJet by 11 - 9.
Pablo Spinacci, the Most Valuable Player of the match played from the back. He finished with seven goals for the tournament. "I am very happy with the game and that we won," Spinacci said. "It was a good game. I liked our team, they were easy to play with."
Grant Ganzi was another factor for Casablanca’s win. He said, "I have never played with Pablo before, but many times against him. He is a great player. He hit the ball really well today. He was a good drill sergeant for our team and led us well. I thought he was the best choice for MVP. He was the leader of our team, scored the goals when it mattered and put the ball where it needed to be at the most important part of the game. He was the most solid player on the team, no question."
Bliss, a 5-year-old mare bred and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm, played by Spinacci, was named the game's Best Playing Pony.