|Finalists were determined Wednesday for the 2017 U.S. Open Polo Championship at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). In the semifinals defending champion Orchard Hill took a 10-9-overtime victory over previously undefeated Flexjet, and 2015 U.S. Open winner Valiente defeated Travieso (a team that made their U.S. Open debut this year) 16-6.
The first match of the day featured Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Rodrigo Andrade, Gonzalito Pieres, Nico Pieres) against Orchard Hill (Polito Pieres, Juan Chavanne, Facundo Pieres, Steve Van Andel). Flexjet demonstrated why they came into the game undefeated as they outshot Orchard Hill 5 shots to 1 to begin the game. Flexjet took an early 3-0 lead behind back-to-back goals from Nico Pieres, along with a goal from Rodrigo Andrade.
Flexjet controlled play through the first two chukkers, holding Orchard Hill to a single shot and only fouling twice (with neither foul providing Facundo Pieres with a penalty opportunity). The combination of defense without fouling gave Flexjet the edge as the game unrolled. The trio of Nico Pieres, Gonzalito Pieres and Rodrigo Andrade played an effective game defensively, with two players always in the action and the other covering the back. That seemed to puzzle an Orchard Hill team that used the duo of Facundo and Polito Pieres to generate their offense.
Orchard Hill started to come alive in the third chukker, shooting at goal four times while holding Flexjet without a shot. However, Orchard Hill was only able to convert 1 of those 4 shot attempts as Facundo Pieres scored his first goal of the game to get his team back within one. A penalty conversion for Gonzalito Pieres pushed Flexjet’s lead back up to two heading into halftime in a low-scoring, back-and-forth affair.