The GAUNTLET OF POLO™ Begins with Four Games in the C.V. Whitney Cup
Rain pushed back the start by one day, but play began in the inaugural GAUNTLET OF POLO™ series with eight teams in action in the 2019 C.V. Whitney Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Daily Racing Form (DRF) defeated Stable Door Polo 13-11 in the opening game of the day, while Pilot needed a penalty 2 conversion with time expiring to defeat Aspen 12-11. The afternoon’s games saw Park Place overwhelm Coca-Cola 10-7 and the final game featured an impressive comeback by SD Farms to defeat Tonkawa 10-9.
The tournament began with a fast-paced game between two youthful teams in a physical game that saw the lead change multiple times up until the final chukker. Jared Zenni played an exceptional game for DRF, providing a steady defensive presence while also assisting on two of his team’s three goals in the opening chukker to hold a 3-2 lead. Stable Door quickly responded with a three goal chukker of their own, with Henry Porter, Victorino Ruiz Jorba and Santiago Toccalino all working together seamlessly to generate an efficient passing attack. The third chukker saw the emergence of DRF’s own passing attack as Geronimo Obregon scored four goals in the chukker, three of which were assisted by a different teammate as DRF held the slim 8-7 lead.
For the first time in the game, DRF separated themselves, holding Stable Door to zero shots in the fourth chukka thanks to a strong team defence led by Zenni. After extending their lead to two goals, DRF grabbed control of the game in the fifth chukker as their accurate shooting became a big factor in the outcome of the game. Perfect 3 for 3 shooting in the chukker, with two goals off the mallet of Santiago Cernadas saw DRF hold a four-goal lead, which was ultimately enough to hang on for the victory. Efficient 12 for 16 shooting from the field for DRF proved to be too much for Stable Door to overcome in the 13-11 defeat.
In a match-up with three Pieres’, Pilot and Aspen traded goals over the opening two chukkers, with Pilot scoring their goals from the field, while Aspen’s Polito Pieres added three goals from the penalty line. Pilot looked to pull away in the game in a dominant third chukka, scoring four goals, two of which came from substitute Mia Bray, who filled in admirably for Curtis Pilot in the game. As was the case throughout the game, Aspen responded to begin the second half, bringing the game back into a tie, as the Pilot offense was contained to zero goals in the fourth chukker while Polito Pieres continued to convert from the penalty line. A battle between Facundo and Polito Pieres broke out over the final two chukkers, as they traded goals for their respective teams, but Pilot held a two-goal lead with minutes remaining. Two quick runs for Polito Pieres, including a final goal running past Facundo Pieres brought the game into a tie, as the scoreboard entered the final 30 seconds. A final drive from Pilot saw Facundo Pieres get fouled in front of goal, and he calmly converted the penalty 2 as time expired to give Pilot the 12-11 victory.
The excitement from the first two games continued into the third game of the day, as Park Place had a successful 2019 debut against Coca-Cola. An organized strategy for Park Place saw Tommy Collingwood in a safe defensive position while the duo of Nico Pieres and Juan Britos worked effectively off each other. Pieres scored two goals in the opening chukker, along with one goal from patron Andrey Borodin. Coca-Cola had their opportunities to respond but failed to find the mark on two shots from the field and two penalty attempts as they found themselves in the early 3-0 deficit. Back-to-back goals from Julian de Lusarreta brought Coca-Cola back within one, but their foul trouble throughout the first half became an issue, as Park Place took advantage with two penalty conversions from the duo of Pieres and Britos to hold a 5-2 lead.
The low-scoring affair continued into the second half, with Park Place maintaining their organized strategy to contain any runs from Coca-Cola. With a 6-2 score after the fourth chukker, the game opened up in the fifth chukker, with Britos and Pieres using long passes to run onto the ball and start runs toward goal. The passing attack paid off as Park Place shot a perfect 3 for 3 from the field, with all goals coming via the pass to extend their lead to five. Coca-Cola made a late push in the final chukker scoring three goals, but Park Place remained disciplined and used the clock to their favor as time expired and they claimed the 10-8 victory.
The full schedule may have saved the best game for last as SD Farms completed an incredible comeback over Tonkawa in the final chukker. Tonkawa’s Sapo Caset exploded out of the gate, converting both field shots and his lone penalty attempt to score three goals and give Tonkawa the early 3-1 lead. Missed opportunities prevented Tonkawa from extending their lead, as SD Farms fought their way back into the game with goals from Pelon Escapite and Juan Ruiz Guinazu. As was the case throughout the game, Caset carried the Tonkawa offense, adding three more goals to his total by halftime, resulting in a 6-4 lead.
With Agustin Merlos protecting defensively, Caset continued his assault on the SD Farms goal, scoring his seventh and eighth goals of the game in the fourth chukker, placing Tonkawa up by four and in full control of the game. Despite the large deficit, SD Farms fought their way back within two goals by the 6th chukker and it was Peco Polledo that led the charge in the final chukker, amassing four shots and finding the goal twice to tie the game. Substituting for Sayyu Dantata, Timmy Dutta completed the comeback with his first goal of the game, sending SD Farms into the second round of the C.V. Whitney Cup with the thrilling 10-9 victory.
Games continue tomorrow at IPC as follows:
10am: La Indiana vs. Santa Clara on Field 3
12pm: Las Monjitas vs. Iconica on Field 4
2pm: Cessna vs. Postage Stamp at Everglades
4pm: Equuleus vs. Old Hickory Bourbon on Isla Carroll East