Date: Monday, June 4, 2012
Despite stormy forecasts, the Ghanaian Polo team prevailed in an exciting victory over USA on Saturday at the season opener of the Newport International Polo Series, Presented by your Rhode Island BMW Centers.
Damp field conditions and overcast, threatening skies did not deter die-hard fans from witnessing a truly exciting, fast paced match that played out in 6 regulation periods. The African Polistas, as they are known on the dark continent, brought their winning strategy to Newport to launch the 21st season of the Polo Series in spectacular fashion. Long, open drives of the ball kept the pace fast and open, while between-period divot stomping by fans helped restore reasonable playing conditions.
The pan african team was made up of Ghanaian captain, Harold Awuah-Darko, in the #4 position, Khaled Dasuky of Nigeria playing #1, Travis Timm of S. Africa at #2 and Aly Kashef of Egypt at #3. USA's roster included Heather Rasulis at #1, Chip Stiegler at #2, Dan Keating at #3 and Jim DeAngelis at #4.
The teams quickly acclimated in the first period, with Timm and Keating scoring for a 1-1 tie. The challengers took the lead in the second period with a pair of goals by Dasuky and a penalty conversion by Timm for a 4-1 advantage. In the 3rd chukker, USA was on the attack, with Stiegler scoring, then a penalty conversion by Kashef erased the gain, until Rasulis scored to narrow the deficit to 5-3 at half-time. The 4th period was all defense, and only the Polistas' Kashef managed a goal to make it 6-3. In the 5th, a penalty coversion and a field goal by Timm increased the lead, but USA answered with a point by Rasulis to make it 8-4. In the final period, each of the Polistas added a goal while USA's one point came by Stiegler for the 12-5 African victory.
The return of Ghana to launch the 21st season ended a 15 year hiatus since the team played here last. Saturday’s 2-hour match concluded with a champagne trophy presentation of the USA vs. Ghana silver cup, inaugurated in 1995, as well as the naming of the Best Playing Pony, Muruca loaned to the visiting team by owner, Chip Stiegler. A lucky fan won the door prize drawing for tickets to next month's Campbell's Tennis Championships at the Int'l Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.