Iconica and Park Place Victorious in CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship® Debuts
The third consecutive day of the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship® featured the return of Sebastian Merlos and Peke Gonzalez in Iconica’s 8-5 victory over Equuleus, while Park Place defeated Old Hickory Bourbon 13-11 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
With the experienced back line of Merlos and Matias Magrini back intact for Iconica, they produced a strong defensive showing, holding Equuleus to just 3 for 15 shooting from the field, while leading the counter attack with accurate passes down field. The common recipient of those passes was Peke Gonzalez, who finished with accuracy to lead all players with seven goals in the game. Held to just five goals, Equuleus’ Magoo and Ignacio Laprida were unable to produce their normally consistent attack, with the missed field shot opportunities leading to the three-goal victory in favour of Iconica. Equuleus dominated possession to begin the game, outshooting Iconica 5-0 in the opening chukker, but converted just 1 of their 5 attempts to hold a narrow one-goal lead. Foul trouble ended Equuleus’ momentum, placing Peke Gonzlez on the penalty line twice, where he scored two of his three goals in the chukka to tie the game at 3-3. The Iconica defence stopped the Equuleus attack the rest of the half, with Merlos scoring a field goal to give his team the narrow one-goal advantage.
The beginning of the second half best displayed Iconica’s strategy with both Merlos and Magrini setting up Gonzalez for field goals, while organizing their defence to keep Equuleus to just one goal. A long chukker saw two injury time-outs for Merlos, already coming back from injury, but he persevered through the remainder of the game. A lightning quick fifth chukker saw the score remain at 7-4 with both teams going scoreless as the ball stayed in the middle of the field. The defensive battle continued into the final chukker, making Equuleus’ comeback attempt difficult with few goals to be had. Gonzalez’s seventh goal of the game secured the 8-5 victory for Iconica to begin their tournament.
The second game of the day featured a quick pace with few fouls between Park Place and Old Hickory Bourbon in a match that was tied on five different occasions. Old Hickory Bourbon stayed in the game with an active defense that created turnovers and limited Park Place’s scoring in the opening half, but the work of Nico Pieres was a deciding factor, finishing with an eight-goal performance that led Park Place to victory. The teams traded goals in the opening chukker, with substitute Sugar Erskine making an impact for Old Hickory Bourbon with two assists. The ball continued to move with speed, led by Park Place’s duo of Pieres and Juan Britos who played an effective two-man game to give Park Place a slim one-goal edge. As was the case throughout the game, Old Hickory Bourbon restored the tie, with Erskine scoring his first goal to end the half.
Spectators were treated to continued goal scoring in the second half, with six combined goals in the fourth chukker thanks to two penalty conversions for Nico Pieres and one conversion for Stevie Orthwein. Miguel Novillo Astrada increased his presence in the game, setting up Erskine and Will Johnston to match Park Place on the scoreboard. In what proved to be the decisive chukker of the game, Park Place amassed seven shots in the fifth chukker to pull ahead by two goals and take control of the game. Using Andrey Borodin effectively in the #1 position allowed Park Place to stretch the field and created more space for Pieres who brought his goal total to seven in the game. Two quick goals to begin the final chukker sealed the victory for Park Place, with Old Hickory Bourbon unable to make a late comeback, ultimately falling 13-11.