On Sunday, September 1 at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, Farmers & Merchants Bank (FMB) defeated Lucchese 9-8 in the final match of the Silver Air Pacific Coast Open (PCO) — the premier polo event on the West Coast.
A sold out crowd enjoyed a riveting match, which saw FMB come from behind in the final chukker to win the tournament. At halftime, Lucchese had a 5-2 lead and the teams matched each other goal-for-goal in the fourth and fifth chukkers, allowing Lucchese to maintain its three-goal lead going into the 6th. In that final chukker, Santiago Toccalino scored three goals, tying the score 8-8, and then Juan Monteverde scored the winning goal.
Toccalino, an Argentinian player who flew in five days before the tournament to replace an injured Pipe Vercellino, had only one day to practice with his teammates, yet scored six of the nine goals. Unsurprisingly, he was named Most Valuable Player.
Toccalino shared that after the bad start, “We decided to calm down, keep on trying and see if we could find our rhythm because we needed to play with speed. We had a good comeback in the second half and we are happy that we won, but it’s not just about winning. We had a great time playing together as a team and it’s been a great tournament.”
17-year-old team captain Lucas Escobar related how “Santiago [Toccalino] is so talented, he made it easy to play with him and he especially helped after losing Lucas Criado and Pipe Vercellino.” Criado was injured six weeks earlier and replaced by Juan Monteverde.
This was the second consecutive trophy for FMB, who earlier claimed the Farmers & Merchants Bank America Cup. FMB was also the 2017 PCO winner. In bracket play leading up to the final, FMB suffered only one loss before facing 2018 PCO finalist Lucchese.
Tournament sponsor Silver Air entertained its clients and friends in its hospitality tent and patio, complete with white sofas and bounteous gourmet food and beverage offerings. Farmers & Merchants Bank did the same in its large hospitality tent. Others watched from boxes, lounges, cabanas, and grandstand seats. Across the field, others opted for tailgating.
Floral dresses, fashionable hats, and blazers prevailed at this tony event. Halftime included the traditional divot stomping while sipping complimentary sparkling wine.
The Best Playing Pony Award went to Pen Ultimo, played by Jeff Hall in the fifth chukker and as a spare in the first three chukkers. After the awards presentation, the fun after-party began with DJ Fab spinning the tunes.
The Pacific Coast Open dates back to 1909 and has been held at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club since 1952. The stunning silver and gold trophy, on display on the clubhouse terrace, stands five feet high. Crowned with an eagle supporting a globe and adorned with semiprecious stones, the trophy is mounted on a redwood base with side panels depicting lively polo scenes.
The PCO marks the end of High Goal Season; 8-Goal Season runs September 13 through October 13. In addition to the main Sunday matches, there are preliminary Happy Hour Matches on Fridays at 4 pm. The atmosphere is more casual and relaxed than Sundays and admission is free.
Silver Air, with corporate offices in Santa Barbara, is a private aircraft management company and direct charter operator with a fleet of luxury aircraft.
For more info about the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, go to http://sbpolo.com.
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