In a matchup that pitted some of the best polo players in the county, Woodside Plantation subdivision's inaugural team took home the Aiken Preparatory School Challenge Cup on Friday night.
The Woodside team, captained by game MVP Owen Rinehart, stayed a goal or two ahead of the team sponsored by Central Air Conditioning for the majority of the contest at Chime Bell Station in Aiken County.
Although the outcome was 11-7, it seemed anybody's game in the fourth of six chukkers when, with just over a minute left in play, Central captain Adam Snow nailed a penalty shot from 30 yards out to tie the game at 6 all.
Woodside continued its aggressive play, though, as evidenced in the fifth chukker when Matias Magrini, picking up a horizontally played "cut shot" from Mr. Rinehart, scored with only a half-gallop's distance between him and his defender.
"They make it look easy, but it's dangerous what they're doing," said Jim Jacks, a polo enthusiast who was tailgating with his wife, Paula. They had invited friends Ragan and Kim Newell on the occasion of Mr. Newell's 36th birthday.
"These guys and these horses are some of the best athletes you've ever seen," Mr. Jacks observed.
The 30-goal polo match - so called because of the combined handicaps of the players - was at a level of U.S. play rivaled only in Florida. Another such high-goal match will be presented again by the Langdon Road Polo Club in the fall.
A 10-goal player designation is the highest one can achieve. Mr. Rinehart has had the designation but is now an 8-goal player. Mr. Snow is expected by many fans to be the next 10-goal player after this season's win at the U.S. Polo Association Open.
The other players for Central were Todd Offen, Tiger Kneece and Antonio Galvan.
The other players for Woodside were Francisco Bilbao and John Gobin.
Both teams received trophies for their participation. The horse named "best-playing" during the trophy presentation was 7-year-old Australian mare Bardot, ridden by Mr. Magrini.
Proceeds from the match benefit Aiken Prep and programs at the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.
Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 279-6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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