The rollercoaster ride ended for Grand Champions Polo Club in the final round of bracket play Sunday in the Joe Barry Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nico Pieres and Mike Azzaro of Grand Champions.
Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nico Pieres and Mike Azzaro of Grand Champions.

For the third game in a row, the foursome of Grant Ganzi, 2, Juancito Bollini, 4, Nico Pieres, 8, and Mike Azzaro, 6, could not build off its early 3-2 lead and dropped a 15-12 loss to Pilot (Curtis Pilot, Timmy Dutta, Gonzalito Pieres, Facundo Pieres) at Isla Carroll East.

Curtis Pilot, Timmy Dutta, Gonzalito Pieres, Facundo Pieres of Team Pilot.
Curtis Pilot, Timmy Dutta, Gonzalito Pieres, Facundo Pieres of Team Pilot.

“The first time we ever played was our first game and we just didn’t jell, that was my fault,” said Curtis Pilot, making his 20-goal debut this season. “The second game we did much better and this third game we played a good aggressive game. They had fast horses, we had fast horses. It was a good fast game. We had fun.”

Facundo Pieres of Pilot scored a game-high ten goals, bringing his season-total to 21. Dutta added three and Gonzalito Pieres had two. Nico Pieres, playing against his two brothers, led Grand Champions with six goals and Mike Azzaro had five.

Mike Azzaro of Grand Champions works the sideboards with Gonzalito Pieres defending.
Mike Azzaro of Grand Champions works the sideboards with Gonzalito Pieres defending.

“We were playing good and they were out of rhythm,” Gonzalito Pieres said. “They got a bit confused especially with the long balls. Timmy and Curtis were doing a good job on Granti and Juancito and it created a lot of space. It was tough for Mike and Nico to get on top of us because Curtis and Timmy were doing a good job on them. It looked like we were passing the ball quite well.”

With the one-two punch of Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres, Pilot was expected to reach the semifinals. But instead lost its first two games against Travieso and Coca-Cola.

Curtis Pilot of Pilot outraces Mike Azzaro and Nico Pieres of Grand Champions.
Curtis Pilot of Pilot outraces Mike Azzaro and Nico Pieres of Grand Champions.

“Today was our best game,” Pieres said. “It’s good that we won and we have another tournament coming up. If our team plays like it did today, we will be good. I am happy for Curtis. At least we won a game in this tournament. We are having fun and that’s important.”

For Dutta, it was another step in the rising young player’s career and first 20-goal win at IPC.

“Today the biggest thing for me was the connection,” Dutta said. “I finally connected with Facundo and Gonzalito. I think in our next tournament we will come out stronger as a team. The horses are playing well for us and we are having chemistry now.

The Pilot-Grand Champions game was one of five games on the final day of bracket play in the 11-team tournament. In other games, Coca-Cola defeated SD Farms, 11-6, in the featured Engel & Volkers stadium game. Steve Krueger was named MVP and Sugar Erskine’s horse Popsy was selected Best Playing Pony. Tonkawa and La Indiana are undefeated and will advanced into Wednesday’s semifinals.