cocaAn action-packed weekend at IPC, Wellington

Over the weekend, there was more than Palm Beach’s fair share of polo action taking place at International Polo Club. With the US Open now well underway, all eight teams took to the fields on either Saturday or Sunday, where they took on their fellow 26 goal competition.
Saturday’s opening match could not have been any closer. Despite getting off to a slower start, FlexJet (Melissa Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Miguel Novillo Astrada and Magoo Laprida) took the score to 10 all in the last chukka in their contest against Alegria (Julian Mannix, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Sterling Giannico), forcing the match into overtime. In the early stages of the match Alegria had looked to be the side to watch, taking a impressive 6-1 lead in the second chukka. However tenacious play by FlexJet kept them in the mix, and at the start of the sixth chukka, the scoreboard read a much closer eight goals apiece. Competitive play continued throughout the sixth chukka, and a perfectly timed goal with just three seconds left on the clock took the score to 10 all, meaning an extra chukka had to be played. Alegria returned for the extra chukka with determination but despite their chances, they were unable to find the posts one more time. Instead it was FlexJet’s Nic Roldan who was the one to get away. Four minutes into extra time, he took the ball down the field to make it 11-10, awarding his side with their first win of the tournament.
Audi (Marc Ganzi, Rodrigo Andrade, Gonzalito Pieres and Fred Mannix) and Lechuza Caracas (Victor Vargas, Agustin Garcia Grossi, Nico Pieres and Juan Martin Nero) were the next two teams to ‘do battle’. Together the two sides demonstrated a display of fast, open polo, with the score reading an even 7-7 at the beginning of the fifth chukka. During the fifth chukka, Audi rediscovered their former USPA Gold Cup winning form, adding three quick goals to the board, giving them a lead of 10-7. Returning for the sixth and final chukka, Lechuza tried everything they could in order to break through the Audi defence, but unfortunately there was nothing they could do to dent Audi’s three goal advantage. Audi secured their second win of the tournament whilst Lechuza suffered their first loss.
Action continued on Sunday, with Orchard Hill facing Las Monjitas and Coca-Cola coming up against a revised Valiente line-up.
Las Monjitas (Camilo Bautista, Facundo Sola, Sebastian Merlos and Eduardo Novillo Astrada) were the first side of the day to achieve success, taking a narrow 14-13 win over Orchard Hill (Steve Van Andel, Gallego Ferrario, Polito Pieres and Facundo Pieres). Orchard Hill started the game the more confident and attacking of the two sides, but Las Monjitas persevered, with Sola scoring an impressive 11 goals, to help them secure them their first win of the tournament.
The red-shirted Coca-Cola side were the next to triumph, defeating Valiente 12 goals to 11 in overtime. Valiente had to take to the field without their original line-up. Due to a fractured tailbone, Patron Bob Jornayvaz was replaced by young Englishman Tommy Beresford while Sapo Caset had to replace a still injured Adolfo Cambiaso. Victory could have gone either way; neither side achieved a lead of more than two goals at any one point, and as a result it was no huge surprise when, come the final whistle, the scores were an even 11-11. In extra chukka action, it has to be said that Valiente had their chances, but sadly for Jornayvaz’s side they were unable to make anything of them. Instead it was Coca-Cola’s Julio Arellano who sealed the win for his side, sending a 40 yard penalty sailing through the posts.

The final of the US Open league games will take place on Wednesday 8 April as follows:
10am – Orchard Hill vs. Coca-Cola
2.30pm – Audi vs. Alegria
5pm – FlexJet vs. Lechuza Caracas

The Quarter Finals are scheduled for Sunday 12 April, with the Final set to take place on the following Sunday.

Photograph: Coca-Cola following their victory on Sunday. By Alex Pacheco

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