Flight Options Defeats Orchard Hill, Plays Coca-Cola In Thursday Butler Handicap

Mar 18th, 2014 | By | Category: English Polo News
18 March 2014
Flight Options field general Miguel Novillo Astrada (3) working the ball downfield to goal. Photo by Scott Fisher

WELLINGTON, FL-March 16, 2014—-Flight Options won its first game of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup with an exciting 11-10 victory over Orchard Hill Sunday at International Polo Club.

With less than a minute remaining, Flight Options 9-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada converted a penalty-two to clinch the win.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Flight Options (Melissa Ganzi, Eduardo Novillo Astrada, Miguel Novillo Astrada, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) earned a spot in the Butler Handicap subsidiary tournament that begins on Thursday with two semifinal games.

Flight Options will play Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Sebastian Merlos, Julio Arellano, Facundo Obregon) in one of the semifinal games at 3 p.m. The game will feature the tournament’s only two women high goal polo players.

Flight Options winning team Eduardo Novillo Astrada (2), Melissa Ganzi (1), Alejandro Novillo Astrada (4) and Miguel Novillo Astrada (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

In the first semifinal, Crab Orchard plays Orchard Hill at 1 p.m.

“We are very happy to win a close game,” Flight Options team captain Melissa Ganzi said. “Miguel had the goal of the game.”

The win over Orchard Hill (Steve Van Andel, Santiago Chavanne, Pablo MacDonough, Matias MacDonough) was a big confidence-booster for Flight Options, not only for the Butler Handicap but also the Maserati U.S. Open  which gets under way March 26th.

Flight Options players Eduardo Novillo Astrada (2) and Alejandro Novillo Astrada (4) working together. Photo by Scott Fisher

“We are playing better together and the horses are getting fitter,” field general Miguel Novillo Astrada said. “We are going to get to the U.S. Open in very good shape.”

The hardfought game was close from the opening chukker with the teams exchanging the lead throughout the game.

In the fifth chukker Flight Options took advantage of Orchard Hill turnovers. Miguel Novillo Astrada beat Matias MacDonough to the ball and with one big lofty hit through the goal post Flight Options regained the lead (8-7).

Flight Options’ Eduardo Novillo Astrada (2) avoids the hook of Orchard Hill’s Matias MacDonough. Photo by Scott Fisher

Less than a minute later, Eduardo Novillo Astrada picked up a loose ball for another Flight Options goal and 9-7 lead.

The sixth chukker turned into a defensive battle after Matias MacDonough converted a penalty two to tie the game at 10-10. The teams chased each other up and down the field, both missing scoring opportunities until Miguel Novillo Astrada came up with his winning goal.

Flight Options’ Eduardo Novillo Astrada (2) works the ball downfield with help from teammate and brother Alejandro Novillo Astrada (4). Photo by Scott Fisher

“When I went to hit the penalty I just remembered what I have been practicing for penalties,” Miguel Novillo Astrada said. “I just focused on the ball and hit it properly. I was happy. The horse was very good and quiet and he let me hit it well.

“I feel for sure we had a very good game,” Astrada said. “This win was important for the team. It was a good game to get the horses in rhythm and now we want to save some horses for the Open. The key for us is to really focus on the Open and prepare the horses for that last month. Hopefully, we will do well.

Flight Options’ Alejandro Novillo Astrada (4) works the ball out of the air despite Orchard Hill defender. Photo by Scott Fisher

“The games we lost in the Gold Cup were very close, so we are there. We just need to adjust a couple of things and we will do really well.”

Alejandro Novillo Astrada led Flight Options scoring with five goals. Miguel Novillo Astrada added four goals and Eduardo Novillo Astrada had two goals.

Eduardo Novillo Astrada (2) of Flight Options reaches back for the ball.
 Photo by Scott Fisher

“We are very happy to win,” said Alejandro Novillo Astrada. “We are playing better together and the horses are getting fitter. We changed our luck today. I knew Miguel would hit the penalty, with Miguel and that kind of penalty knew it was going in.”

Santiago Chavanne led Orchard Hill with four goals and Matias MacDonough had three. Pablo MacDonough had two goals and Van Andel added one.

Flight Options coach Joey Casey was pleased with the team’s play and cohesiveness.

Orchard Hill players Matias MacDonough (4) and Steve Van Andel (1) congratulate Flight Options team captain Melissa Ganzi after the game. Photo by Scott Fisher

“They played awesome today,” Casey said. “Everyone played really well today. The other team played really well, too. It was a tough game.

“It’s good to get the rhythm and confidence going into the U.S. Open. We want to get the horses ready and everything else ready for the Open.

“We have a great team and a really good chance in the Open,” Casey said.

Flight Options player Eduardo Novillo Astrada (2) drives downfield with the ball with defender Santiago Chavanne (2) of Orchard Hill. Photo by Scott Fisher

Flight Options, one of the 2014 season’s new polo team sponsors, is the world’s second largest private aviation fleet that flies throughout the United States, Canada, northern Mexico, Cabo San Lucas and the Bahamas.

For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org.

Game video and live webcasts can also be seen at PoloNow Network at http://www.polonow.tv/.

Flight Options team captain Melissa Ganzi and Alejandro Novillo Astrada (4) enjoy a laugh during halftime. Photo by Scott Fisher


MARCH 7-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup: WEDNESDAY, Valiente vs. Audi, 1 p.m.; Lechuza Caracas vs. Alegria, 3 p.m.; THURSDAY,  Butler Handicap Semifinals, Crab Orchard vs. Orchard Hill, 1 p.m.; Flight Options vs. Coca-Cola, 3 p.m.; MARCH 23, Butler Handicap Final, noon; USPA Piaget Gold Cup Final, 3 p.m.

MARCH 26-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships


MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5-goal); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; March 18-30, Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals); March 23-31, March 23-31, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament.


TUESDAY: 12-goal, Hawk Hill vs. Casablanca, 3 p.m.; WEDNESDAY: 12-goal, Pony Express vs. Palm Beach Equine, 4 p.m.; THURSDAY: 8-goal, Equuleus vs. Tonchala, 4 p.m.; FRIDAY: 8-goal, Far Niente vs. Tonchala, 4 p.m.; 5-goal, Grand Champions vs. Elegante Polo, 4 p.m.; SATURDAY: 12-goal, Bracket Handcap Final, 1 p.m.; Bracket Final, 3 p.m.; SUNDAY: 8-goal, Hawk Hill vs. TLC Development, 10 a.m.; 5-goal, SLS Jets vs. Patagones Azul, 10 a.m. and Pony Express vs. Grand Champions, noon.


TUESDAY: Equuleus vs. Goose Creek; March 21: KIG vs. Casablanca; March 23: KIG vs. Equuleus; March 25: KIG vs. Goose Creek and Casablanca vs. Equuleus; March 28: Goose Creek vs. Casablanca; March 30: Championship final.

APRIL: Las Acacias (5-goal); USPA Association Cup (8- goal); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goal); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16-goal).


MONDAY: Buzz Welker Memorial Tournament, 2 p.m.

APRIL 4-5: Fifth annual Gay Polo League International Tournament

APRIL 8-12: Women’s Championship Tournament


APRIL 17-19: Grand Champions Cup

APRIL 24-27: The USPA Spring Challenge

MAY 1-4: The USPA Sun Cup

MAY 8-11: The USPA Eastern Challenge

MAY 15-18: The Polo Gear Challenge Cup

MAY 22-26: The Memorial

Source: Phelps Media Group