Apparently, no one really expected Maryland to win.
On April 29, Maryland faced off against Houston the United States Polo Association’s Open Interscholastic National Championship, hosted this year by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, quickly scoring the first two goals. From USPA:
Brennan Wells going straight to goal, followed quickly by teammate Parker Pearce executing a classic “walk the dog” team play. Houston’s Sloan Stefanakis sunk a beautiful backshot and Grayson Price tallied another from the field to keep it close. Bennan Wells then finished an end-to-end run to put Maryland up by one at the end of the first 3-2.
In the second chukker Maryland came out swinging, Pearce placing a well-executed back shot to goal. Maryland’s Jack McLean displayed quick stick work that resulted in a three-goal lead, but Houston’s Price retaliated with a big neckshot to goal to bring the score 5-3. Maryland’s teamwork had Wells scoring and McLean hitting a perfect cut shot to increase their lead. In the last minute of the chukker, Stefanakis was fouled going to goal and awarded a penalty 1 ending the chukker 7-4 in favor of Maryland.
The third chukker saw accurate penalty shots from both Maryland and Houston. Houston focused on playing a strong defensive game, but they were unable to contain Maryland’s Wells and Pearce who scored a combined five goals. Houston was trailing by six 13-7 entering the last chukker, but were not ready to concede.
Stefanakis opened the chukker with a huge two-point shot out of the bowl in. He then quickly added another before Maryland’s McLean stopped the Houston run with a goal of his own to make the score 14-10. Two more goals from Houston’s Stefanakis closed the gap to two 14-12. With less than two minutes left, McLean made a huge defensive play stopping what the crowd thought would be a sure Houston goal. Wells and Pearce turned on their offensive game once again and scored two goals pulling ahead to win the 2017 Open National Interscholastic Championship with a score of 16-12.
While this is the first USPA I/I Open National Championship title for the Maryland Polo Club, Maryland coach Kelly Wells led the Garrison Forest Girls’ team to an Open Interscholastic Championship in 1998.
Maryland’s Brennan Wells received an All Star honor and Parker Pearce received the Sportsmanship Award.