SUPA go to USA.
SUPA Universities representing Britain competed last week (9 to 12 Jan) in The Intercollegiate Challenge Cup, held this year in the USA.
Intercollegiate players once again had the opportunity to represent their college and country in the 2017 International Intercollegiate Challenge Cup held at the WestWorld Equidome in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Schools & Universities Polo Association (SUPA), and United States Polo Association® (the USPA Intercollegiate/Interscholastic program), played in the first International Intercollegiate Challenge Cup in 2013. The United Kingdom and the United States alternate hosting this annual tournament. Both teams had each won the cup twice prior to this year’s match. The event formed part of the program for the prestigious Townsend Cup, which is America’s oldest arena polo trophy.
SUPA Britain was comprised of Robin Omerod, Capt. (University of Bristol), Sam Boreham (Nottingham Trent), Minnie Kerr-Dineen (Nottingham University) & Toby Small (R.A.U Cirencester). The pressure was on for members of the USA team playing in front of their home crowd, captained by Liam Palacios (senior at Cornell University), Team USPA member Julia Smith (5th year senior at University of Virginia), Dalton Woodfin (senior at Texas A&M University) and Jillian Tietje (sophomore at California Polytechnic State University).
The UK got off to a fast start with Omerod scoring two consecutive goals in the first two minutes of play. They kept the lead throughout the chukker and the period ended with a score of 6-3. Woodfin retaliated in the second with three goals for USA to tie the game 6-all. From that point on, the teams would remain neck and neck. The UK and the USA remained tied until Palacios scored with ten seconds remaining before the half to pull the USA ahead by one, 9-8.
With the UK trailing by one at the beginning of the second half, Omerod immediately scored to tie the game yet again. The UK brought their best defensive game into the arena while shooting with accuracy and precision. They came out on top at the end of the chukker 11-10.
The International Intercollegiate Challenge Cup was anybody’s game going into the final chukker. Woodfin tied the game 12-all halfway through and quickly scored again out of the line up to put USA on top. The young USA college players could have allowed the frantic nature of a close game to rattle them, but like professionals they remained level headed and consistent. Just over a minute remaining, the USA pulled ahead by one, then scored again with just 20 seconds left to win the game 15-13.
The Most Valuable Player was awarded to the UK’s well-deserving Robin Omerod. USA’s Dalton Woodfin received the Sportsmanship Award and Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Hurricane owned by George Dill. Charles Smith, Chairman of USPA Polo Development, LLC remarked that the horsemanship he witnessed in this game was impressive and commendable.
The next SUPA organized event in the UK is the National Universities Arena Championships 2017, running from Thursday 9 to Sunday 12 February. Hosted by Rugby Polo Club at the Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex in Warwickshire.
Photo: Representing the USA, Jillian Tietje, Dalton Woodfin, Julia Smith, Liam Palacios. UK players Robin Ormerod, Tobias Small, Samuel Boreham, Minnie Kerr-Dineen.