Pilot Captures Gauntlet of Polo™ with CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship® Victory
Completing a perfect season at the International Polo Club Palm Beach, Pilot captured the Gauntlet of Polo™ and the $1,000,000 prize with the convincing 12-7 victory over Las Monjitas in front of a packed grandstand on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1.
Under the immense pressure of the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship® final, Pilot displayed another dominant performance leading from start to finish after racing out to a 4-0 lead. The defensive effort from Pilot proved to be a crucial factor in the game as they forced Las Monjitas to shoot from distance, limiting them to just 5 for 15 from the field. A disciplined second half with zero fouls for Pilot gave them the advantage in open play with Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres at their best, combining for eight field goals on accurate 80% shooting. Las Monjitas fought to create offensive chances of their own, but Pilot controlled the throw-in battle and produced strong set plays that resulted in them maintaining the possession advantage that led to the commanding five-goal victory.
The first chukker featured Pilot’s potent offense at their best, scoring four answered goals to begin the game, with Las Monjitas a step behind in attempting to gain possession. After each goal, Pilot immediately regained possession, winning all five throw-ins in the chukker and leaving Las Monjitas in their defensive end. Finally generating a shot of their own, Las Monjitas’ Francisco Elizalde found the goal to put Las Monjitas on the scoreboard, trailing 4-1 at the end of the first chukker. A renewed focus for Las Monjitas resulted in them increasing their pressure on Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres, creating turnovers to generate a quick counter-attack. Inaccurate 0 for 6 shooting from the field to end the half left Las Monjitas unable to bring the game back into a tie, but their defensive pressure led to just one more Pilot goal in the first half on a Penalty 3 conversion for Facundo Pieres. Committing an uncharacteristic three fouls in the third chukker, Pilot conceded four penalty attempts to Las Monjitas but Elizalde converted just 1 of the 4 attempts, leaving Las Monjitas trailing 5-3 at halftime.
In what became the most decisive chukker of the game, Pilot overcame the Las Monjitas momentum to finish the first half in a dominating fourth chukker led by the play of Facundo Pieres. Scoring two goals while adding an assist, Facundo Pieres worked seamlessly with Gonzalito Pieres controlling the ball and passing with accuracy to take advantage of Las Monjitas foul trouble, with Pilot producing effective plays off their Penalty 5’s to score four goals in the chukker. Holding a five-goal lead, Pilot organized their defence, keeping Las Monjitas away from the front of the goal and forcing them into shots from distance. The result was just one field goal for Hilario Ulloa, his first goal of the game, while Facundo Pieres responded with a field goal of his own to keep the five-goal lead with just seven and a half minutes remaining. Any hope of a Las Monjitas comeback was promptly ended by a Penalty 3 conversion for Facundo Pieres to begin the final chukker, extending Pilot’s lead to six and securing the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship® title. With one goal and an assist, Matias Gonzalez claimed MVP honors, while Facundo Pieres’ Mega Chistosa was awarded Best Playing Pony. The exciting 12-7 victory completed Pilot’s perfect season with an impressive 16-0 record capturing the inaugural Gauntlet of Polo™ at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Cover photo credit: ©United States Polo Association