In November at the Houston Polo Club, the Northern Trust team made history by winning the U.S. Open Women’s Championship for the second consecutive year thanks to fierce playing by Maureen Brennan (captain), Kristy Outhier, Julia Smith, and Sarah Wiseman.
The 6-day tournament, rated 20–26 goals, provided a rare opportunity to see some of the world’s best female players in action, and the title round did not disappoint. Northern Trust rallied from a three-goal deficit in the final chukker to tie the score at 7-all. In the nail-biting “sudden death” overtime, Northern Trust was first to score, thereby defeating Rocking P/The Plank Co, 8-7.
This is the fourth US Open Women’s title earned by Brennan whose Goose Creek Polo Team won in 2011 and 2013.
“It was an incredible game,” said Brennan. “We knew that Rocking P/Plank Co were going to change their strategy from the last game [which Northern Trust won]. But we decided no matter what, we were going to stick to our game plan.”
At one point in the hard-fought last chukker, Northern Trust was still down by two goals. That’s when Outhier rallied the team with what can best be described as “fighting words.”
“I said, we have 6 more minutes to win this game, let’s go!” recalled Outhier, who earned Most Valuable Player on her “home” field. In the last 15 seconds, she converted a penalty shot for the tying goal. The overtime offered spectators the exciting spectacle of two well-matched, determined teams locked in prolonged battle, but ultimately, assisted by Outhier’s relentless defense, Smith worked the ball up the boards and scored the tie-breaking goal, securing the win for Northern Trust.
A senior at University of Virginia, Smith is co-captain for the third year of the UVA Women’s Varsity team, winners of the 2014 U.S. Polo Association National Intercollegiate Championship. For two years running, Smith has received UVA’s #1 MVP All-Star award. She grew up in Haverford, Pa., and learned to ride at Chamounix, home of the Work To Ride program, where she got hooked on polo.
Smith contributed to the Cowtown/Work To Ride team’s victory in the 2012 USPA National Interscholastic Open Championship; one of only two females playing in the open tournament, she was named to the All Star Team. A 2014 member of Team USPA, a special program for outstanding youth, she has set her sights on becoming a professional polo player.
This was her third U.S. Open Women’s title, having been part of Brennan’s Goose Creek team that won in 2013 and last year’s Northern Trust team. Last summer, Smith attended Team USPA’s summer camp in Wyoming. The previous two years, she spent her summers immersed in horses and polo at Brennan’s Virginia International Polo (VIPolo), based at historic Llangollen Farm in Upperville.
“Maureen has been so incredible as a mentor, teacher and friend — my career wouldn’t be where it is without her,” said Smith. “She’s a great teacher and such a kind person. She’s successful in women’s polo as well as in open polo. It’s so great to play on the same team with her. I have extreme confidence, no matter what the other players are like.”
Accolades from Outhier’s great day included two of her horses winning Best Playing Pony titles. Reata won BPP for excellence in the 3rd chukker, and Moon won the Quarter Horse Best Playing Pony as Outhier’s first chukker horse and also her overtime horse.
Brennan took up polo in 2002. Her lifelong involvement with horses includes high performance show jumping. She’s a USPA Governor at Large (2015) and serves on many USPA committees. Currently rated at 6 goals in women’s polo and 1 goal in open (coed) play, Brannan has won many national tournaments and earned a number of MVP and BPP titles. Her VIPolo horses and Goose Creek Polo Team will winter in Wellington, Florida. Students of all ages and at all levels of play are welcome.
For more information: www.vipoloclub.com