The ninth day of play in the 2020 USPA Gold Cup® featured four teams from Bracket III and IV jockeying for position in the second round. Dutta Corp improved to 2-0 with a convincing 11-6 victory over Equuleus at the International Polo Club Palm Beach, while Coca-Cola claimed a thrilling 14-13 overtime victory against Cessna at Everglades to conclude play.
A dominant first half highlighted a strong Dutta Corp performance, with the ball moving quickly from the back to the front in a balanced, team attack. Scoring just one field goal in the first half, Equuleus’ slow start left them trailing throughout the game as they struggled to get past Dutta Corp’s backline of Facundo and Mariano Obregon. Receiving at least two goals from all four players, Dutta Corp overwhelmed Equuleus to capture the 11-6 victory.
Foul trouble in the opening chukker for Equuleus resulted in Dutta Corp building a large lead from the penalty line. Conversions from Facundo and Mariano Obregon, along with a penalty one awarded to Lucas Diaz Alberdi contributed to Dutta Corp’s 4-0 lead as Equuleus struggled to generate offense of their own. The game continued to be decided on the penalty line, with Equuleus finding the scoreboard on consecutive penalties from Mariano Gonzalez. Before the end of the half, the game opened up and the pace increased, favoring the play of Dutta Corp, who effectively used the pass to create scoring chances. Field goals from Facundo Obregon and Timmy Dutta capped an impressive first half, giving Dutta Corp the 8-3 lead.
In urgent need of offense, Equuleus’s Gonzalez scored his third goal of the game, but Dutta Corp continued to display an organized defence that limited the chances of Equuleus. Holding them to just six shots through four chukkers, Dutta Corp maintained their five-goal lead through the fifth chukker, receiving goals from Alberdi and Mariano Obregon. The inability of Equuleus to generate consistent offense ultimately proved to be the difference, as they managed just one goal in each of the final three chukkers in the 11-6 defeat.
A high-powered second game saw 27 goals between Coca-Cola and Cessna, with overtime needed to determine the winner. A game of two halves, Coca-Cola was executing in every area of the game over the first three chukkers, finishing with accuracy in a dynamic attack. Cessna stormed back to force overtime in the second half, led by Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario, who finished with nine goals in his best performance of the season. The close game was decided by the smallest of margins, with Coca-Cola emerging as the victor on a penalty four conversion from Nico Pieres in the extra chukker.
The first chukker left the teams tied on the scoreboard, as two quick goals for Coca-Cola were answered by back-to-back goals from Ferrario. A decisive second chukker saw Coca-Cola establish a lead behind the duo of Steve Krueger and Gillian Johnston, as they combined for three goals as part of a 4-1 chukker that gave them a three-goal lead. Continuing to hold the possession advantage, Coca-Cola finished the half by scoring seven straight goals due to the play of Krueger and Julian de Lusarreta, who found opportunities to run to goal and push Coca-Cola’s lead to five.
A high-scoring start to the second half resulted in seven goals as Cessna began to fight their way back into the game. Two penalty conversions from Ferrario, along with field goals from Felipe Marquez and Chip Campbell provided some momentum to Cessna has they had two chukkers remaining to close the gap of four goals. Ferrario continued to be an impactful player in the game, jumping on loose balls to score two consecutive goals and cut the deficit in half. With both teams on edge in the final minutes, fouls slowed the pace, but it was Cessna who took advantage, converting two penalty attempts to send the game into overtime. A quick whistle sent Nico Pieres to the 60-yard line, and in a high-pressure moment, he converted the penalty to secure the thrilling 14-13 victory for Coca-Cola.
All photos ©Alex Pacheco