Quarter-Finals Set in USPA Gold Cup®
The final day of group play featured the four teams in Bracket 1 vying for their spot in the USPA Gold Cup quarter-finals. A thrilling overtime game began the day with Tonkawa claiming the 12-11 victory over La Indiana, while a sixth chukker comeback from Aspen gave them the #1 seed after the 9-8 win against Park Place at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
A closely, fought match between La Indiana and Tonkawa saw neither team hold more than a 2-goal advantage at any point in the game, with La Indiana winning the open play battle, but Tonkawa dominating scoring from the penalty line. In a game that came down to a few plays, the indiscipline from La Indiana led to Tonkawa claiming the win, behind a perfect 9 for 9 from the penalty line for Sapo Caset. Little separated the two teams over the opening two chukkers as the score remained tied at 4-4, with La Indiana’s Tomas Garcia del Rio contributing in open play with a goal and an assist. Caset paced the Tonkawa offense throughout the game, finishing with four first half goals, all from the penalty line, while assisting on one of two Agustin Merlos goals to give Tonkawa the slim 6-5 lead at halftime.
The back and forth game continued in the second half, with La Indiana primarily controlling possession, producing their best two chukkers of the game in the fourth and fifth chukkers, outscoring Tonkawa 5-2 during that span with an organized passing attack that resulted in all four players finding the scoresheet. Despite holding Tonkawa to just one shot in the second half, La Indiana’s discipline proved to be their downfall, watching their two-goal lead disappear after three penalty conversions for Caset tied the game at 11-11. A minute into overtime, Caset received another penalty attempt and converted the Penalty 2 for his 10th goal of the game and ultimately sending Tonkawa into the quarter-finals.
The final game of group play contained another back and forth game that came down to the final minutes. A balanced Park Place offense had all four players contributing, including Andrey Borodin finishing with accuracy at the front of the game, but unforced errors and a relentless attack from Polito Pieres who amassed 12 shots and contributed on 8 of Aspen’s 9 goals, resulted in the narrow victory. A fast-paced opening two chukkers displayed a potent Aspen attack, outshooting Park Place 8-3, but their inaccuracy around goal, left the score tied at 2-2, while Juan Britos accounted for both Park Place goals. The inability of Aspen to convert their opportunities, finishing the first half just 2 for 11 from the field, allowed Park Place to grab the two-goal lead with Britos adding a goal and an assist to be the key offensive contributor in the first half.
Sorting out their shooting woes, Aspen came out strong in the second half, with Polito Pieres scoring two goals, while also assisting on Stewart Armstrong’s second goal of the game, to erase the deficit and tie the score at 5-5. Park Place reorganized their defence, using turnovers to create a quick counter attack that saw them shoot at goal six times in the fifth chukker. A goal each from Borodin, Lucas Diaz Alberdi and Nico Pieres, gave Park Place the commanding 8-6 lead with one chukker remaining. Costly turnovers for Park Place gave Aspen the opening they needed, including a penalty 1 in favor of Tomas Schwencke to tie the score at 8-8. The comeback was completed with Polito Pieres’ scoring the game winning goal and improving Aspen to an undefeated 3-0 record and the #1 seed in Bracket 1.