The second round of play in Bracket 1 featured two games in the USPA Gold Cup®, beginning with La Indiana moving to the top of the bracket, defeating Postage Stamp Farm 13-11, while Santa Clara completed a sixth chukker comeback to defeat Daily Racing Form 9-8 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
An exciting match between La Indiana and Postage Stamp Farm, both holding a 1-0 record, came down to the final two chukkers, with Postage Stamp Farm’s accurate 64% shooting unable to overcome their foul troubles that resulted in perfect 6 for 6 penalty shooting from Polito Pieres. La Indiana utilized the penalty line to pace their offense in a foul ridden game, leaving Postage Stamp Farm’s duo of Peke Gonzalez and Lerin Zubiaurre a step short to complete the late comeback in their first loss of the season.
Playing at a quick pace early on, Postage Stamp Farm produced a strong attack from open play, receiving a field goal each from Gonzalez, Zubiaurre and Annabelle Gundlach. Despite their fast start, Postage Stamp Farm led by just one goal after conceding a penalty 1 and penalty 2 to Pieres. Giving La Indiana very little space, Postage Stamp Farm kept them off the scoreboard from the field, forcing Pieres to score from the penalty line, which he did for the third time in the game, but Postage Stamp Farm extended their lead to two on Zubiaurre’s second goal. After missing their first five shots, La Indiana’s Santiago Gomez Romero finally broke through from the field to cut the deficit in half, leaving La Indiana trailing 6-5 at halftime.
Accounting for eight of La Indiana’s first nine goals, Pieres continued to produce from the penalty line, converting his fifth and sixth penalty attempts to begin the second half, while also scoring consecutive goals from the field. A dynamic duo in the front of the game for Postage Stamp Farm, Gonzalez and Zubiaurre matched La Indiana offensively to leave the score tied at 8-8 with two chukkers remaining. A fast fifth chukker featured a change to the La Indiana offense, with Jeff Hall and Michael Bickford scoring as part of a 3-0 chukker that placed La Indiana firmly in the lead. An exciting final seven minutes saw Postage Stamp Farm fight to reclaim their lead, with a penalty 4 conversion from Gonzalez pulling them within one. A final goal from Romero sealed the 13-11 victory in favor of La Indiana, improving to 2-0 in the tournament.
A crucial match in keeping their chances alive to advance, the outcome between Daily Racing Form and Santa Clara was decided in the final seconds, with Matias Magrini playing the hero with the game-winning goal. Despite holding the possession advantage, Daily Racing Form struggled to convert their opportunities from both the field and the penalty line, shooting just 38% and 40% respectively, opening the door for Santa Clara to claim the slim 9-8 victory behind five penalty conversions from Ignatius Du Plessis.
A back and forth start to the game saw a lone penalty 2 conversion for Jared Zenni in the opening chukker. Continuing to display an organized defense, Daily Racing Form quickly extended their lead at the start of the second chukker, receiving another penalty conversion from Zenni along with Costi Caset’s first goal of the game to give Daily Racing Form a commanding 3-0 lead. Managing just two shots over the first two chukkers, Santa Clara’s Henry Porter converted one to get his team on the scoreboard and cut the deficit to two. In what turned into a game of runs, Santa Clara gained momentum from the end of the second chukker to reel off three unanswered goals to finish the half, two from Du Plessis to hold their first lead of the game at 5-4 heading into halftime.
A penalty conversion for Santa Clara completed a run of four straight goals, but undeterred, Daily Racing Form responded with an impressive run of their own. Tommy Collingwood’s first goal gave life back to Daily Racing Form in a balanced attack that saw all four players contribute to fight back into the lead. Finishing a four-goal run of their own in the fifth chukker, Daily Racing Form held an 8-6 lead, but a double yellow for Agustin Obregon resulted in a penalty goal for Du Plessis, leaving the score at 8-7 entering the final chukker. Reliable throughout the game, Du Plessis added his fifth penalty goal, leaving the score tied with time expiring, but Magrini broke through for the winning goal, leaving Daily Racing Form without any time for a response in the 9-8 defeat.
All photos ©Alex Pacheco