First Round Continues With Three More Games
A second consecutive day of three games at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in the USPA Gold Cup® resulted in six more teams beginning their quest for the second leg of the Gauntlet of Polo™. Pilot defeated SD Farms 13-8 in the first game of the day, while the remaining two games were one goal affairs, with Daily Racing Form edging Old Hickory Bourbon 12-11 and Las Monjitas also claiming the 12-11 victory over Postage Stamp Farm.
Pilot continued their push for the $1 million-dollar prize, remaining undefeated in a win over SD Farms, thanks to a dominant second half that produced six goals from the penalty line. The dominant two man-game from Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres eventually wore down SD Farms, with Facundo Pieres contributing eight goals and three assists. SD Farms came out strong in the opening chukker, seeking to upset the C.V. Whitney Cup champions. Holding a 3-1 lead, SD Farms was using all four players to counteract the elite duo of Pilot and fought throughout the first half to maintain their lead. Pilot produced a 3-0 second chukker, but SD Farms reclaimed the lead before the half was over, threatening Pilot’s undefeated record.
The second half featured the Pilot seen in the C.V. Whitney Cup, wearing down their opponent with a dominant possession style of play. Scoring from distance, Pilot provided little opportunity for SD Farms to slow their attack as they outscored SD Farms 7-2 over the fourth and fifth chukkers. Pressing on defence, SD Farms committed too many fouls over the final three chukkers, resulting in six penalty goals off the mallet of Pieres and leading Pilot to a five-goal advantage. Little time remained for SD Farms to mount a comeback as the strong final three chukkers for Pilot sealed the 13-8 victory.
The second game featured a hard-fought contest between Daily Racing Form and Old Hickory Bourbon, with the outcome of the game being decided in the final chukker. Despite conceding twice as many fouls, Daily Racing Form still attempted twice as many shots to edge out the victory. Receiving one goal on handicap, Old Hickory Bourbon quickly added to that lead, finishing the first chukker with a 4-0 advantage after goals from Miguel Novillo Astrada, Jason Crowder and Stevie Orthwein. Finding themselves in the early deficit, Daily Racing Form wasted zero time in fighting their way back in the game, with a 3-0 second chukker to reduce the deficit to one. Old Hickory Bourbon converted all four of their shot attempts from the field in the opening half to hold the 6-4 lead, but Daily Racing Form’s 11 first half fouls were the key factor in them trailing by two goals.
Improved discipline from Daily Racing Form resulted in them tying the score, led by the efforts of Agustin Obregon who contributed on all three of his team’s goals in the chukker, with two goals and one assist. With two chukkers remaining, the teams battled back and forth with Daily Racing Form creating more chances, but Old Hickory Bourbon converting at a high rate. A high-scoring fifth chukka gave Daily Racing Form their first lead of the second half after a field goal from Santiago Cernadas. Jason Crowder continued to battle in the middle of the field with strong ride-offs and forcing turnovers, as the game entered the final minutes. Consecutive goals for Daily Racing Form, including a penalty 1, extended their lead to three, and despite two final goals, Old Hickory Bourbon fell short in the 12-11 defeat.
The final match of the day produced a tale of two halves, with Postage Stamp Farm dominating the first half, while Las Monjitas mounted an impressive comeback. Both teams were efficient from the field shooting over 70% in the game, taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them. A relentless first half from Postage Stamp Farm kept Las Monjitas on the defensive, with Valerio Zubiaurre proving to be an offensive force. Six first half goals from Zubiaurre on perfect 6 for 6 shooting from the field, provided Postage Stamp Farm with the edge, while Mariano Aguerre was exceptional supporting defensively. By the end of the half, Postage Stamp Farm held an 8-3 lead, with las Monjitas struggling to generate an attack of their own.
The game switched after halftime when Postage Stamp Farm lost the aggression they had in the first half, sitting back to give Las Monjitas the opening they needed. A 3-0 fourth chukker, with one goal each from Hilario Ulloa, Francisco Elizade and Matt Coppola reduced the deficit to just two goals. Coppola was exceptional on individual runs to goal, scoring three goals in the fifth chukker to force a sixth chukker to determine the winner. Elizalde came through in the clutch, converting a penalty 4 to begin the chukker and quickly following that up with two field goals to secure the impressive comeback and claim the 12-11 victory.