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AUDI & ORCHARD HILL IN THE USPA PIAGET GOLD CUP FINAL

There was no shortage of spectators for the second game of the day as the cars convoyed from one field to the other at the International Polo Club, and the semifinal matchup between Orchard Hill and Alegria wouldn’t disappoint them.

18 Mar 2015 0 comment   Paola A Maldonado Máquin
RODRIGO RIBEIRO DE ANDRADE-AUDI TEAM RODRIGO RIBEIRO DE ANDRADE-AUDI TEAM ALEX PACHECO

 Orchard Hill took the field as the 2015 C. V. Whitney Cup champion while Alegria boasts the title of the defending US Open Champion.  Both lineups were riddled with talent with 10-goaler Facundo Pieres and his cousin, 9-goaler Polito Pieres garnering much of the attention, Alegria relied on the veteran skills of former 10-goaler Mariano Aguerre and the talented 9-goaler Hilario Ulloa.  Steve Van Andel and Ezequiel Ferrario filled out the balance of the Orchard Hill roster while 4-goalers Julian Mannix and Sterling Giannico joined Aguerre and Ulloa on the field.

Polito Pieres wasted little time in displaying his extensive polo skills, scoring in the first minute of play with a goal from the field for the early 1-0 lead.  A minute later Facundo Pieres made it 2-0 on a 60-yard penalty conversion, and the game was underway.  Just when it looked as if Orchard Hill would have their way with Alegria, Julian Mannix broke free and showed why he is the leading amateur scoring leader in the tournament with a goal from the field that ended the chukker.  Orchard Hill had the lead, but Alegria wasn’t conceding anything, trailing early, 2-1.

Alegria fought back in the second frame with Mariano Aguerre opening the chukker with a goal from the field to tie it at 2-2.  The ball was carried from one end of the field to the other, with both teams getting shots on goal and aggressive defenders sweeping the ball clear of their respective goals.  With three minutes on the clock, Hilario Ulloa scored his first goal of the game for a 3-2 Alegria lead.  Ezequiel Ferrario responded with a tying goal that ended the chukker all even at 3-3.

Goals were hard to come by in third period play.  Midway through the chukker Alegria team captain Mannix scored his second goal of the game for a 4-3 Alegria lead.  Two minutes later it was Facundo Pieres with a 60-yard penalty conversion that left the score dead even at 4-4 at the end of the first half.

Both teams received the benefit of a halftime recess that allowed them to regroup for second half play.  Facundo Peres gave the lead back to Orchard Hill with a 60-yard penalty shot in the opening seconds of the fourth, 5-4.  Mannix countered with his third goal of the day, 5-5.  Alegria benefited from a Penalty 1 at the 4:04 mark, as they were awarded a goal on the Orchard Hill foul for the 6-5 lead.  Less than a minute later, Polito Pieres tied it again, 6-6, and gave Orchard Hill the 7-6 lead with a minute left on the clock.  With time running out, Facundo Pieres rocketed a shot from 70-yards out that crossed the goal line a fraction of a second before the horn sounded, giving Orchard Hill a two goal, 8-6 lead.

Ulloa opened the fifth chukker with a goal from the field. 8-7. Facundo Pieres scored on a 30-yard penalty shot, 9-7.  Ferrario extended the Orchard Hill lead to three goals, 10-7, with his first goal of the game, but Alegria fought back.  A penalty goal from Ulloa cut the lead to two goals, 10-8.  Polito Pieres displayed his magical stick skills in the waning seconds of the chukker, scoring his fifth goal of the game for the 11-8 Orchard Hill lead.

Undaunted, Alegria took the field for the sixth chukker.  Mannix made a brilliant run down the field, depositing the ball in the Orchard Hill goal mouth where Ulloa dutifully drove it through the goalposts for the score, 11-9.  Ulloa would follow it up with a goal from the field moments later, 11-10, and a run of the field by Mannix tied the game at 11-11 with 3:40 left in regulation play.  Facundo Pieres gave the lead back to Orchard Hill with just under three minutes on the clock, but it seemed to be plenty of time for a determined Alegria foursome.  Ulloa scored the tying goal at the 1:50 mark to the approval of a wildly excited crowd.  Both teams had runs at goal, but it remained all even at 12-12 when the final horn sounded, calling for a sudden-death overtime chukker.

The overtime period began with a throw-in with both teams contesting every move of the other.  With Alegria deep in the Orchard Hill end of the field, Polito Pieres got possession of the ball and weaved his way through the Alegria defenders over 250 yards down the field, tapping the ball in the air for the final several yards before carrying it through the goalposts for the 13-12 Orchard Hill victory.

Facundo Pieres scored four of his team-high six goals on penalty conversions.  Polito Pieres added five goals and Ferrario scored twice for the win.  Ulloa’s six goals led the Alegria attack.  Mannix scored four times and Aguerre added a goal.  The team also received one goal on a Penalty 1.

The Orchard Hill wins sets up a Piaget Gold Cup final on Sunday with an Audi team that will be taking the field without team captain marc Ganzi at the helm (shoulder injury).  This will be Audi’s third Piaget Gold Cup final appearance, losing in 2009 and winning in 2011.  Orchard Hill will be making their first Gold Cup final appearance.

 

Audi edging Las Monjitas in the final 26 seconds of play on a 30-yard penalty conversion. 

The 25-goal Audi team received one goal by handicap but it was Facundo Sola scoring the first goal of the day on a 30-yard penalty shot to tie it at 1-1.  Gonzalito Pieres followed up with consecutive goals (one on a penalty conversion) for a 3-1 Audi lead.  Sebastian Merlos closed out the scoring in the opening chukker, with Las Monjitas trailing, 3-2.

Sola blew the game open in the second period with three straight goals (one on a 60-yard penalty shot) that gave Las Monjitas a 5-3 lead.  Single goals from Pieres (penalty conversion) and Fred Mannix (with 21 seconds on the clock) leveled the game, with Audi and Las Monjitas all even at 5-5.

The third chukker began with Audi fouling in their own goal mouth in an effort to save a goal.  Las Monjitas was awarded a goal and a throw-in from 15-yards in front of the Audi goal.  Eduardo Astrada managed to take control of the throw-n and drive the ball through the goal posts for the 7-5.  Sebastian Merlos scored for the second time on the day as Las Monjitas moved out to an 8-5 lead, but Audi fought right back.  A goal from Mannix cut the lead back to two goals, 8-6, and Pieres converted a penalty shot into a goal with less than a minute on the clock to end the first half with Las Monjitas holding on to a narrow 8-7 lead.

The fourth chukker of play was defensive in nature, with neither team able to score in the opening seven minutes of play.  With time running out and mere seconds on the clock, Audi was whistled for their second Penalty 1, and Las Monjitas was awarded a goal.  Five seconds were put on the clock for the ensuing throw-in, fifteen yards from the Audi goal, and within seconds, Las Monjitas added a second goal on a shot from Astrada for a comfortable 10-7 lead to end the chukker.

The situation looked dark for the Audi team as the fifth chukker got underway.  An early foul sent Sola to the penalty line once again where he converted a 40-yard penalty shot for a goal and an 11-7 lead.  A determined Audi squad battled back, picking up a goal from Mannix just a minute later, 11-8.  Within 30 seconds, Pieres cut the lead back to two goals, 11-9, with his fifth goal of the game.  A sharp cut saw Ganzi’s pony stumble with Ganzi hitting the ground precariously, resulting in an injury time out that had his son, Grant Ganzi, replacing him with just under three minutes left in the period.  With 40 seconds on the clock, a Las Monjitas foul resulted in Pieres converting a 40-yard penalty shot that ended the chukker with Las Monjitas defending a delicate one goal lead, 11-10.

Audi continued to press the attack into the sixth chukker, and desperate efforts to stop them resulted in consecutive fouls that Pieres turned into goals.  In the opening 30 seconds of the period, Pieres converted a penalty shot from 40-yards out, tying the game at 11-11.  A minute-and-a-half later, Pieres gave Audi their first lead since the opening chukker on a 30-yard penalty conversion, 12-11.  The tempo continued to quicken as time ran down on the clock.  With just under two minutes left in the game, Segundo Merlos tied the game at 12-12 with his goal of the day.  Desperation grew as the clock ran down.   With an anxious crowd looking on, and the option of an overtime period in the wings, Las Monjitas committed a foul that sent Pieres to the penalty line where he converted the shot from 30-yards out for the 13-12 win.

Pieres led all scoring with nine goals (seven on penalty shots).  Mannix added three goals and the team received one goal on handicap.  Sola’s five goals (three on penalty shots) set the pace for Las Monjitas.  Merlos and Astrada each added two goals and the team was awarded a pair of goals of Penalty 1s.

It was learned later that Marc Ganzi suffered a shoulder separation in the fifth chukker fall and would be replaced in the Piaget Gold Cup final by his son, Grant Ganzi.  His return to the Audi team will be evaluated later this week.

 

Thanks a lot: Alex Webbe

PH: Alex Pacheco

Prof. Paola A Maldonado Maquin

            Journalist

 

 

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