A-F Pony Farm wins U. S. Women’s Open Championship in overtime
By Alex Webbe
In a hard-fought, physical battle that left winners and losers bruised and sore, A-F Pony Farm (Karen Reese, Dayelle Fargey, Tiffany Busch and Lia Salvo) scored an exciting 6-5 overtime win over a star-studded international San Saba polo team (Dawn Jones, Caroline Anier, Clarissa Echezaretta and Lesley Ann Masterton Fong-Yee) in the finals of the 2012 U. S. Women’s Open Championship at the Houston Polo Club.
“It’s just so amazing,” said an exuberant Tiffany Busch, following the win. “I can’t believe it,” she added.
With an altered lineup that had Lia Salvo replacing the injured Abbey Riggs (Abby was injured in a hard ride-off in the final chukker of Friday’s semifinals against BTA), the A-F pony Farm foursome took the field against a powerful San Saba lineup that included French 2-goaler Caroline Anier and Jamaican 2-goaler Lesley Ann Masterton Fong-Yee. Add to that a strong 1-goal captain in Dawn Jones and veteran Clarissa Echezaretta, and you see a very impressive polo team.
A-F Pony Farm might appear relative docile on the surface, but make no mistake of the talents and abilities of each of its players. Abbey Riggs, Karen Reese and tiffany Busch are well-known commodities on the playing fields, and the addition of former 2-goaler Dayelle Fargey seemed to be the perfect blend.
San Saba’s path to Sunday’s finals came at the expense of ERG (Crystal Cassidy, Cecelia Cochran, Ina Lalor and Mumy Bellande) in a 7-4 win followed by an exciting win over the defending championship Goose Creek team (Maureen Brennan, Carin Middleton, Kristy Outhier and Sunny Hale). A-F Pony Farms route wasn’t quite that easy.
A first round Bye was followed by a second round loss to Goose Creek, but an 8-7 win over BTA in semifinal action allowed them to sneak into the finals. It was in the semifinals, however, that Abbey Riggs was injured and forced to sit out the finals. Argentine 2-goaler Lia Salvo filled in for her, and the rest is history.
San Saba and A-F Pony Farm battled back and forth throughout the game, with the two teams leaving the field after the first two chukkers of play in a 3-3 tie.
“It was brutally even,” related Tiffany Busch, “It was constantly back and forth,” she added. “They were up by a goal, we were up by a goal, then we were tied, it was brutal,” she said.
San Saba took a 5-4 lead into the final 30 seconds of regulation play when Lia Salvo broke through to score the tying goal and force overtime.
The two teams returned to the field for the overtime period and played over two minutes into it when Tiffany Busch drove a well-executed neck-shot through the goal posts for the win.
“I have sores and bruises all over my body,” said Tiffany the day after the match, “but I am so excited.”
With the girls shipping horses back home, tiffany Busch will be heading back to Florida where she will have a brief rest before preparing to join Melissa Ganzi and sunny Hale to play with a US team against a 7-goal English women’s lineup on Sunday, November 25th at the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington.