The beginning of the third round in the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship® led to the first two quarter-finalists after Pilot defeated Postage Stamp Farm to win Bracket IV, while Equuleus won a decisive game against Coca-Cola to secure their spot at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The feature game of the week on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1 featured another strong performance for Pilot as they inch closer to claiming the Gauntlet of Polo™. A stout Postage Stamp Farm defence limited the opportunities for Pilot, but inaccurate 2 for 10 shooting from the field kept them from taking the lead, as Pilot continued a steady second half attack to claim the victory. A fast-paced opening half resulted few fouls and end-to-end action with plenty of scoring chances for each team. Tied 1-1 after the opening chukker, the teams remained deadlocked with Facundo Pieres scoring both goals for Pilot, while Lerin Zubiaurre and Joaquin Panelo responded for Postage Stamp Farm. Using their defence to create turnovers and offense of their own, Postage Stamp Farm was unable to take advantage,missing two shots from the field and two penalty attempts in the fourth chukker. Gonzalito Pieres’ second goal of the game gave Pilot the slim 4-3 lead, escaping the first half after conceding more shots and penalty attempts to their opponent.
Postage Stamp Farm’s inaccuracy from the field continued to play a factor in the outcome of the game, allowing Pilot to increase the lead to two after receiving their first penalty attempt of the game. With the lead, Pilot continued to pressure the Postage Stamp Farm defence, resulting in an additional penalty attempt and a three-goal fifth chukker for Facundo Pieres that gave Pilot a commanding lead. Kept more in the back of the game in a passing role, Mariano Aguerre’s chances were limited at goal, while the duo of Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres attacked downfield. Facing a four-goal deficit, Postage Stamp Farm was ultimately held to just six goals in the game, falling to an undefeated Pilot team that claimed the top seed in Bracket IV.
Earlier in the day, Equuleus displayed a dominant second half performance against Coca-Cola in a crucial match-up against teams holding a 1-1 record, with the winner claiming a spot in the quarter-finals. Coca-Cola utilized an accurate passing attack early in the game, assisting on the majority of their goals, until unforced errors allowed Equuleus to produce a quick counter attack, overwhelming the Coca-Cola defence. A nearly perfect first chukker built a 4-1 lead for Coca-Cola behind Gillian Johnston who effectively received the ball and finished with accuracy to score two early goals. Foul trouble for Coca-Cola gave the opening Equuleus needed to fight their way back from the early deficit, using their Penalty 5’s to create scoring opportunities. Two goals each for Ignacio and Magoo Laprida to end the first half reduced Coca-Cola’s lead down to one, with the momentum in favor of Equuleus.
The fourth chukker proved to be the most crucial chukker in the outcome of the game, with Equuleus outscoring Coca-Cola 4-0 as three goals came off the mallet of Mariano Gonzalez. Coca-Cola continued to struggle with foul trouble, preventing them from finding the success they had in the opening chukker. Gonzalez continued to finish with accuracy from both the penalty line and the field, scoring his fifth and sixth goals of the game, increasing their lead to four with just one chukker remaining. Held to just two goals throughout the second half, Coca-Cola’s passing attack failed to connect in the final chukker, leaving them unable to mount a comeback, with another penalty conversion for Gonzalez sealing the 14-9 victory for Equuleus.