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Newport vs. Pittsburgh Match Report

Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Polo Grounds' favorable proximity to the Sakonnet shore provided its reliable cooling coastal effect on Saturday, July 18, moderating afternoon temperatures and providing a pleasant breeze, while much of the inland region was under a heat advisory, in time for sparks to fly in the rivalry between Newport and Pittsburgh, that anyone who follows sports knows is a long standing feud.

The rematch between the two teams was the 5th consecutive annual clash and, like last year, went down to the wire for the tie-breaker, to enthusiastic cheers from the spectator audience in one of this season's rare 17 matches, as the Polo Series held its 8th consecutive match, and the first in its City Series, still the only live sporting event in New England since the start of the pandemic.

Under a State-approved plan including reduced capacity with socially-distanced tables in the Davitt Pavilion, fieldside Tailgates and Picnic Patches on the lawn from which to view the matches at the polo grounds, sold-out audiences have enjoyed the Newport International Polo Series polo matches every Saturday since Opening Day on June 6, where spectators for nearly 30 years have witnessed the timeless sport unfold across an argyle-patterned emerald green at Glen Farm, home of the Polo Series for the past 28 seasons, in a classic exhibition of horsemanship and valor, with host, the Newport Polo Club, where the home team - Newport/USA - meets challengers each season from around the world and as well as teams representing major US cities and regional rivals in one of Newport's unique traditions & renown attractions.  

Captains assembled at centerfield for the Official Coin Toss, presided by General Manager Keith Chouinard of The Chanler at Cliff Walk  - Official Polo Series Lodging Partner, following player introductions and the US national anthem.  Color commentary during the match was provided by our loquacious authority, William Crisp, the voice of Newport Polo.  

In hometeam Red jerseys, Newport fielded Roger Souto in the #1 position, Magaux Buchanan at #2, Dan Keating at #3 and Sam Clemens in the #4 position.  In steely silver and gold, Pittsburgh mounted Mia Purdom at #1, with Minnie Keating at #2, Luke Merrick in #3, and Justin Powers closing the back door at #4.  Mounted Officials were Rory Torrey and Jim Bowden.

Winning the coin toss, Pittsburgh chose the opening direction of play, and lost no time in their offensive, racking up 2 unanswered points with effective teamwork in the first chukker with a pair of goals by Merrick for a 2-0 lead at the bell.  In the interval between 7 minute periods of play, known as chukkers, horses were changed quickly and strategies appear to have been deftly realligned by Newport who resumed the competition in a more even keel, holding Pittsburgh scoreless in the 2nd, while Clemens' goal put the hometeam on the scoreboard, closing the gap 2-1.  Pittsburgh came back with cannons blazing in the 3rd period, starting and ending with goals by captain Powers, and a goal by teammate Purdom in between, leaving Newport trailing 5-1 at the end of the first half.

A half-time intermission gave spectators the opportunity to have a socially-distanced and masked stroll across the playing field to replace divots, a time-honored polo ritual that helps restore the field for the second half.  Drinks were refreshed and food trucks dished out popular refreshments including gourmet hotdogs, kettle corn, homemade ice cream and refreshing shaved ice, and new limited edition official sportswear made its debut in the fieldside Pro Shop.  A soundtrack of Americana hummed across the venue by DJ LowCee, as Old Glory rippled at centerfield in the line of 34 international flags overhead. 

Pittsburgh's 6th goal to open the second half, by M. Keating was the straw that broke the camel's back, igniting a 3 goal rally by Newport, led by Clemens, then Buchanan and Souto, improving the hometeam's stakes, 6-4.  The comeback continued into the 5th period with a goal by D. Keating, until Merrick scored for Pittsburgh, still leading 7-5 going into the final period.  D. Keating kept the pressure on from the hometeam with a goal to reduce the gap to 1 point, but Powers responded with a Pittsburgh goal, then Clemens' chiselled the deficit to 1 point, and D. Keating made a successful run for the tying goal as the clock ran out, with the audience on their feet for Sudden Death Overtime, tied 8 all.  The teams scuffled from the throw-in at the center, each with opportunties that were quickly extinguished, until the hometeam captain D. Keating ensured the narrow victory goal in the brief minutes of overtime play, to decide the match 9-8 for Newport.

Modern Luxury Boston publisher Shannon Pasztuzak awarded the special prize and Jumbotron moment of fame to a nautical pirate themed tailgate in the weekly Stella Artois Tailgate Contest, with a chance to be featured on the upcoming party pages of Boston Common Magazine, the region's premier luxury fashion lifestyle glossy.  The match concluded with the Newport Polo Fan Salute around the perimeter - a tradition originating at the Newport International Polo Series in 2003, and now emulated at polo clubs around the world, and the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Toast & Trophy Presentation with Tom DiSanto from Gallo|Thomas Insurance awarding the silver Liberty Bowl, inaugurated in 2016.

The Polo Series is scheduled to continue for the next 9 weeks, every Saturday through September. The schedule of teams is subject to change, as per RI State mandates in effect at the time, on international travel and Adult Sports.  Stay current with the 2020 team lineup & stats, latest news, events, and more by e-scription to the Gameday Briefing (sign up) and weekly eMagazine (sign up). Both subscriptions are private and spam-free.

Safety being a top priority, RI State approved COVID-19 safety measures are in effect at the polo grounds this season including online sales, masks required when not seated, social distancing and greatly reduced capacity.  Read full details

Minutes from the bustling Newport waterfront, the International Polo Grounds are located on the acreage of Glen Farm, 250 Linden Lane (off of Rte. 138) in Portsmouth, RI. This bucolic setting is the last 100 acres of a pre-colonial settlement from the 1600’s that became the Town of Portsmouth's original gentlemen's farm, an 800-acre manorial estate established during a Gilded Age movement of retreat from the high life into pastoral country acres, that would become the future home of polo in the next century. Its classical 19th century stone barns and its park-like grounds were rehabilitated by Polo Series founder, Dan Keating in the early 1990’s and continue to thrive as an equestrian & community recreational property, and home of the Polo Series.  

The Newport International Polo Series is honored to present its 2020 sponsors including Gallo|Thomas InsuranceDavittBoston CommonHotel VikingThe ChanlerThe Newport Harbor Hotel & MarinaVanderbilt International PropertiesVeuve ClicquotClarke Cooke HouseStella ArtoisROCKSTAR LimoAtria Senior LivingGoslingsMcGrath Clambakes and Catering, and promotional partners including The Cocktail GuruTYGER | Event Design + ProductionNewport Jaguar ToursNewport Helicopter ToursAmerica's Cup ChartersInternational Tennis Hall of FameNewport MansionsIsland Surf and SportNewport Sport Fishing ChartersProvidence River Boat Company, and Newport Harbor Guide.  Special thanks to Schultz Marketing Partnerships, Van Liew TrustTanglewood, and WCRI Classical Rhode Island.  “Our sponsors have been with us since the beginning. Without their support, the Series would not be as extensive as it is,” explains Dan Keating, Polo Series founder.

This is the 29th season of Newport International Polo Series, which has hosted teams from 34 nations including, Ireland, Germany, Spain, England, Argentina, France, Egypt, India, Australia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Canada, Chile, Jamaica, Nigeria, Portugal, New Zealand, Barbados, Scotland, South Africa, Hungary, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Kenya, Brazil, China, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Singapore, Monaco, Morocco, Peru, and Poland.

Cover Photo by Michelle Almeida.  View the Album

Polo, Since 600 b.c.

Polo is, without doubt the oldest ball game in the world today. First recorded in the 6th century b.c. when the Turkomans beat the Persians in a diplomatic tournament, the alluring game caught on with equestrian royalty and cavalry, and took off with globalization, withstanding the tests of time. By the time Polo arrived on Newport’s shores during the Gilded Age, the sport was nearly 2500 years steeped in tradition, captivating newcomers like Newport's summer sporting set who embraced the new pastime, establishing America's first polo club in 1876.  A charter member of the United States Polo Association, the club today is still a trailblazing model polo club, hosting the Newport International Polo Series public exhibition matches, supporting philanthropic causes, organizing tournaments, polo club member services and polo instruction year-round. Experience the king of games in its American landing at Newport Polo.