Energy and Emotion at German Low Goal
With that awkward number of five teams competing at the German Low Goal Championships 2022, the tournament could have been a fizzer, but it was possibly the most exciting and competitive low goal tournament I've seen in a while. Every team was well-mounted, played hard, fast and fair, providing those displays of physicality that delighted the enthusiastic spectators at Tagmersheim Polo Club . The round-robin format appealed to the crowd and gave both ponies and players a bit of breathing space in one of the hottest weekends of the summer.
Since the German Low Goal is an opportunity for lower handicapped players to prove their worth and gain experience, it was encouraging to see those players doing just that. Valintin Ulrich -2 was a goal getter for Team Furstenberg on his favorite pony, Tonton. At -1 Peter Cromm was valuable with his strong hits and was composed enough to take penalties for Team Tiger Polo. After adjusting to the speed, Ann-Katirn Braendle -2 playing for Team Das Kutscherhaus gained confidence and shone in attacking play. Leah Kawamoto wrestled successfully with higher goal players in the ride-offs, and both Annabel von Morgenstern (-1van Laack) and Nina Strasser (-1 Fürstenberg) were well positioned to carry the ball towards goal.
Tagmersheim Polo Club is all about country and most of the spectators come form the surrounding farms and villages. Over the years, this crowd has been a faithful and important component in tournaments in Tagmersheim. Their enthusiasm and readiness to cheer and clap every power play or goal is appreciated by the the players. They truly enter the action. This crowd brings the family
and the family dog for a fun filled afternoon field-side.
After two days of round-robin play, we were treated to a final of four straight chukkers between Team van Laack and Team Peng. This was to be a high-intensity cliff-hanger.
Van Laack with a half goal advantage, were well-mounted and, as an almost complete family team, could combine well together. Isabel von Morgenstern played with her son, Benedikt, and daughter Annabel, with young Franz Spürgin at back. As crowd favorites they were ready and able to play above their rankings. But they were taken by surprise when Team Peng, with Comanche Gallardo, the brothers Chris and Max van Eupen and Leah Kawamoto, swept in for two quick goals in the first chukker. Comanche, using his experience to impose himself on the game with that elegant little mare, Maria, was on point form the start. In contrast, Franz Spürgin on Pepe, in the first chukker, was just not on target.
However, by half-time, van Laack had managed to limit the damage and the score stood at just 2-1 1/2 for Peng. Van Laack came back looking energized after the break and Franz, settling into his game, proved to be Peng's worst nightmare, as he combined with Benedikt to punch the ball down the field and make spectacular, crowd-pleasing goals putting van Lack in the lead 5 1/2 -4.
Max van Eupen, playing above his 0 ranking, created space for his team but, despite some clever play with his brother Chris, this team Peng was losing momentum. Showing enormous grit and determination, Annabel zipped through any gaps provided and she and Isabel kept up that persistent pressure needed to win the trophy. The last minute goal by Peng was a little too late and Team van Laack came in winners of the German Low Goal Championships 2022 (6 1/2 - 5)
Both the spectators and the von Morgenstern family were ecstatic. There were a lot of hugs and tears of joy. The other teams happily joined in the celebrations and were all presented with prizes. However the silver cup and the champagne shower was for Team van Laack and Tagmersheim. Thank you for a great three days of polo.
MVP Franz Spürgin +2
BPP Batman played by Franz Spürgin, owner Eva Brühl
Winner German Low Goal 2022
Team van Laack
Runners up Team Peng
Team Tiger Polo
Team Das Kutscherhaus
Photo credit special thanks to Sangipics