Making their first appearance in the C.V. Whitney Cup since capturing the inaugural Gauntlet of Polo™, Pilot survived a late challenge from Dutta Corp to capture the exciting 10-9 victory. Earlier in the day, Patagones had a successful debut, defeating Old Hickory Bourbon 10-8 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The Ylvisaker Cup champion Patagones team returned to the field against a new Old Hickory Bourbon team that had the additional of new 7-goaler Victorino Ruiz Jorba, in a tight game that came down to the final chukker. Old Hickory Bourbon had the opportunities they needed to capture the victory, but shot just 36% from the field, while being kept off the penalty line the entire game. Patagones didn’t produce near the same amount of chances as Old Hickory Bourbon, but took advantage of nearly every chance, shooting 7 for 9 from the field and converting three penalties to narrowly escape with the victory.
The opening chukker heavily favored Old Hickory Bourbon, but they converted just 1 of their 5 shots on a goal from Will Johnston to remain tied at 1-1 despite the large possession advantage. Using three throw-in wins to gain some momentum, Old Hickory Bourbon pushed ahead by two on consecutive goals from Miguel Novillo Astrada and Jorba, but Patagones provided a quick response on a Penalty two conversion from Santiago Toccalino and field goal from Geronimo Obregon to end the second chukker. Little separated the two teams in the first half, with Patagones edging ahead as a result of three fouls from Old Hickory Bourbon. Gonzalo Avendano scored his first goal of the game to contribute to Patagones’ slim 6-5 lead.
Foul trouble over the fourth and fifth chukkers for Patagones gave them additional possessions to start the second half, but Old Hickory Bourbon continued to produce chances at goal, led by Steve Orthwein. Scoring his third straight goal for his team, Orthwein matched Patagones on the scoreboard as they traded goals, leaving Old Hickory Bourbon trailing by one entering the final chukker. The strong duo of 8-goalers in Tomas Garcia del Rio and Toccalino guided their team to victory, scoring a goal each in the final chukker to complete the 10-8 victory in a successful Gauntlet of Polo™ debut.
The second game of the day featured another debut in Dutta Corp, as they faced a difficult task against the reigning Gauntlet of Polo™ champions in Pilot. After going undefeated in 2019, Pilot narrowly avoided a defeat to begin their 2020 season, surviving a late push from Dutta Corp to capture the one-goal victory. Scoring six of their 10 goals from the penalty line, Pilot relied on the penalty shooting of Facundo Pieres, who finished 6 for 7, while Dutta Corp’s duo of Facundo and Mariano Obregon combined for seven goals in the last second loss.
A defensive opening chukker saw Pilot held off the scoreboard and the lone goal coming off the mallet of Timmy Dutta, giving Dutta Corp the early 1-0 lead. Continuing to pressure Pilot on the ball, Dutta Corp raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second chukker, shocking Pilot in the initial stages of the game, but they were only able to contain the elite 10-goalers Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres so long, as the duo quickly scored three goals to tie the score at 3-3. Foul trouble hurt Dutta Corp to end the half, conceding three penalty goals to Facundo Pieres in the third chukker, erasing their early start and trailing the strong Pilot team 6-4 at halftime.
Unwilling to back down, Dutta Corp challenged Pilot in a fast-paced fourth chukka that saw end-to-end action and two goals from Mariano Obregon, but it was the fifth chukker that brought excitement to the end of the game. Outscoring Pilot 3-0 in the fifth chukker behind the duo of Facundo and Mariano Obregon, Dutta Corp took the lead with just one chukker remaining to hand Pilot their first loss. Receiving two penalty 2 attempts, Facundo Pieres brought Pilot back into the lead, but as time was expiring, a Dutta Corp attack was stopped with the whistle, yet no foul was declared and Pilot was able to run out the clock and claim the thrilling 10-9 victory.
All photos credit ©Alex Pacheco