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Rocking P Triumphs In Texas Women’s Open Return

Rocking P Triumphs In Texas Women’s Open Return

Rocking P Texas Women's Open Winner 2021

On November 14, the Texas Women’s Open Final saw an exceptional weekend of elite women’s polo in the Houston area. 

Rocking P Texas Women's Open Winner 2021

The match featured the undefeated Engel & Volkers Houston, with Grace Mudra, Lily Lequerica, KC Krueger, and Sarah Wiseman. They played against Rocking P, with Bridget Price, Summer Kneece, Maitena Marre, and Mili Sanchez, a team they had defeated previously in open play. 

After giving up a three-goal lead in their first-round loss to Engel & Volkers Houston, Rocking P was in search of redemption. They prepared tirelessly for their second opportunity in Sunday’s final. “We probably watched the film six times and said, ‘If we play them again, we’re beating them’,” Bridget states. 

Ultimately, Rocking P’s preparation and determination came to fruition on Farish field at Houston Polo Club as they claimed the trophy with 6 to 5.5. “This was a comeback win from COVID-19 and not being able to compete in the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship Semifinals in Florida.” patriarch of Rocking P Carl Price claims.

Rocking P Texas Women's Open Winner 2021

Showcasing a youthful line-up of four players all aged 21 and under, Rocking P entered the rematch against Engel & Volkers Houston with .5 on handicap. However, they fell victim to a slow start. Running downfield on the opening play of the game, KC left the ball in the goal mouth for Lily to hit the backshot and give Engel & Volkers Houston the early lead. 

For the second consecutive play, KC and Lily’s connection resulted in a goal, leaving Rocking P trailing by two before two minutes had come off the clock. Settling in, Rocking P found the scoreboard on an impressive hook and backshot from Summer, who was playing women’s high-goal for the first time. “These ladies are so good,” Summer comments. “I feel like I’m learning from the best players, every single one of them.” 

Facing a 4 to 1.5 deficit at the end of the first chukker but armed with a renewed defensive focus, Rocking P held Engel & Volkers Houston off the scoresheet in the second chukker, allowing them to cut into the lead before the end of the half. Despite missing two penalty attempts, Rocking P came within two after Mili shot through traffic to leave the score with 4 to 2.5 entering halftime.

Determined to make their comeback attempt, Rocking P raced out of halftime with the guidance of coaches Tiger Kneece and Marcos Villanueva and the strong play of Maitena and Mili. 

“Maitena and I can do a lot because we know each other from Argentina,” Mili says. “We play together a lot and have the confidence to tell each other things so it’s very good.” 

Mili contributed back-to-back goals including a run to goal off a pass from Maitena, allowing Rocking P to hold their first lead of the game with the handicap advantage 5.5 to 5. 

Rocking P turned their attention to the fourth chukker, hoping for a different outcome than their previous contest against Engel & Volkers Houston. For nearly four minutes of play, all eight players were closely marked with their defender consistently on their hip to maintain the 0.5 goal difference in favor of Rocking P. 

Running down the left side of the field on London, Mili raced past her defender and completed the goal to extend Rocking P’s lead to 1.5. Not looking back for the remainder of the game, Rocking P secured the 6.5 to 5 victory to claim the Texas Women’s Open.

A mainstay in women’s polo, Rocking P was set to compete in the 2020 U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship Semifinals before COVID-19 postponed the remainder of the tournament. They also opted out of the 2020 edition of the Texas Women’s Open. 

“We took a break last year because of COVID-19,” Bridget shares. “Rocking P’s been in the tournament pretty much every year. So when we came back, I got to play with great teammates.” 

Her father Carl continues detailing the story. “My daughter Courtney has won this tournament, and now it’s Bridget’s turn. It’s the best feeling ever!” he smiles.

Assembling the team was a challenge after travel restrictions from England and a broken ankle led to Maitena and Mili travelling from Argentina. “We talked to Tiger and planned it last year and got Maitena and Mili from Argentina, which was really thrilling because not a lot of girls from Argentina have come down before,” Bridget relays after the victory. 

Rocking P mounted three of their players with nine homebreds. “We have been breeding for a while and selling horses here in Texas,” Rocking P Manager and coach Marcos says. “We knew we had the horses and the girls were playing great.” 

Joining the team for the first time and instrumental in bringing Maitena from Argentina, Mili spoke about the experience of joining Rocking P. “I’m very grateful to Rocking P, Marcos Villanueva, and the whole organization who first had this in mind,” she points out“This is the first time I have played here in Texas and the truth is I’m very happy. The Texas Women’s Open is a very good tournament and it’s great to compete with friends.”

Making a two-day trip, Summer brought her own horses after a successful Aiken season. “We were lucky because Aiken’s season had just ended,” Coach Tiger explains. “All the horses were fit, they were already playing, and we just packed them up and brought them.”

At just 16 years of age, Summer has had an exceptional year, winning the Girls’ National Interscholastic Championship, National Youth Tournament Series Girls’ Championship, and now the Texas Women’s Open. “It means a lot because I’ve seen Rocking P play in this tournament for years and to be on the team and win is a wonderful opportunity and experience!” Summer gushes.

Scoring four goals, including three during Rocking P’s run in the second half, Mili was named Most Valuable Player. “The strategy was creating space and it was essential to go in with a lot of fire because it was a very difficult game,” she shares. “We were unlucky at first, but I don’t know if we changed anything because we improved minute by minute.”

Rocking P Texas Women's Open Winner 2021

Best Playing Pony Professional honors were presented to London, an 11-year-old homebred mare owned by Rocking P and played by Mili in the third and fourth chukkers. She was able to score the impressive goal in the fourth chukker on London which secured the victory. 

“This is the second time she’s won Best Playing Pony here in the women’s tournaments,” Carl says. “Sarah Wiseman played her the first time she was named Best Playing Pony.”

Best Playing Pony Amateur went to Lily’s 13-year-old gelding Mike, bred by LA Waters Quarter Horses and registered with AQHA under the name ‘Charro Cowboy’. Finished by Lily’s horse trainer parents CJ and Sheila Lequerica, Mike has been a part of the family since Lequerica was a young girl. 

“He’s always been my number one and I always play him in the fourth” Lily muses. “Mike has the best mouth and he’s very chill. Every time I go to a man, I’ve never lost a ride-off on him.”

Taking a moment to relish their victory, the Rocking P champions will quickly move into their next endeavours with Mili and Maitena travelling back to Argentina. They are set to prepare for the Women’s Argentine Open, where Mili will play on La Irenita alongside American Hope Arellano. 

Bridget Price will move right into interscholastic play next weekend. “It’s one thing after another, so we’ll shut down until after Thanksgiving and then immediately start practice for arena polo,” Carl states. 

Photos by David Murrell

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