USPA Gold Cup® Begins
The second leg of the GAUNTLET OF POLO™ began with an action-packed day of three games in the USPA Gold Cup®, beginning with Stable Door Polo narrowly defeating Coca-Cola 12-11 at Port Mayaca Polo Club. The remaining two games featured a close 8-7 victory for Equuleus over Cessna Polo Team, while Iconica defeated Santa Clara 10-8 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The opening game came down to the final minutes with Stable Door Polo holding off a Coca-Cola comeback after building a lead early in the second half. Strong execution between Santiago Toccalino and VIctorino Ruiz Jorba on their knock-ins, along with a five-goal performance from Henry Porter gave Stable Door Polo the advantage they needed to pull away in the game. In the early stages, Ignacio Novillo Astrada made his impact with two penalty conversions along with assisting on a goal from Steve Krueger to erase the deficit on handicap and hold the 3-2 lead. Porter’s first goal of the game tied the game and the two teams remained deadlocked for most of the first half. Coca-Cola converted just one of their final six shot attempts in the half, trailing by just one goal with Stable Door Polo holding the slim 6-5 lead.
Porter led the charge for Stable Door Polo in the fourth chukker, scoring two goals, while Coca-Cola countered with offensive chances of their own but failed to find the goal on any of their four shot attempts. A high-scoring fifth chukka produced end-to-end action with six combined goals, including two goals each from Toccalino and Julian de Lusarreta. A double yellow for Santino Magrini gave Coca-Cola the opening they needed to comeback, but they were unable to score over the two-minute penalty. Refusing to give in, Coca-Cola fought back within one goal with Gillian Johnston scoring her third goal of the game in a strong performance. Time ultimately played in Stable Door Polo’s favor as they held on for the 12-11 victory.
A game of contrasting styles had the offensive Equuleus match-up against the defensive Cessna Polo team, but the outcome came down to Cessna being unable to convert their chances, making just 1 of their final 10 shot attempts. Early foul trouble led to Equuleus grabbing the early two-goal lead, but Cessna responded with a balanced team effort that gave them success in the C.V. Whitney Cup. A run of five unanswered goals for Cessna resulted in all four players finding the scoresheet, effectively rotating and attacking at different times. Late goals from Magoo Laprida and Mariano Gonzalez reduced the deficit to one, with Cessna holding the slim 6-4 lead at halftime.
The offense for Cessna slowed in the second half, with Equuleus’ back line hitting effective backhands to turn the play. In what became a developing story in the game, Cessna were unable to convert the chances they had, conceding four knock-ins in the fourth chukker alone. Equuleus slowly chipped away at the lead in what turned into a defensive game, with Inaki Laprida scoring a goal in each of the fifth and sixth chukkers to tie the score. Cessna was held to just one field goal from Felipe Marquez in the entire second half and it was a final penalty conversion for Gonzalez that sealed the 8-7 victory for Equuleus.
The final game on the opening day in the USPA Gold Cup® between Iconica and Santa Clara came down to the final chukker, with both teams finding the scoresheet in different ways. Iconica controlled possession but battled foul trouble throughout the game allowing Santa Clara to keep pace, yet their inaccuracy shooting to goal proved to be their downfall. With the injury to Sebastian Merlos, Iconica’s new line-up of Cody Ellis, Gringo Colombres, Peke Gonzalez and Matias Magrini took the early 1-0 lead on a field goal from Gonzalez. Ignacio Toccalino converted his penalty 2 and 3 opportunities in the opening half, while Iconica responded with a team effort that saw each player claim one goal. Colombres and Magrini worked together effectively in the back of the game, but seven first half fouls from Iconica kept the score at 4-4.
A dominant fourth chukker saw Peke Gonzalez come alive with two goals to push his team ahead by three goals, while Magrini protected defensively to keep Santa Clara off the scoreboard. The momentum quickly switched in the following chukker, with Santa Clara producing a 3-0 chukker of their own to restore the tie. Luis Escobar found his moment to drive forward from the back, helping Santa Clara fight their way back into the game despite shooting just 4 for 11 from the field. The back and forth affair was finally won by Iconica, after Gonzalez added two more goals from the field, leading Iconica to the 10-8 victory.