By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
Audi is one game away from the final of the 111th U.S. Open at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The 16-week high goal winter polo season is winding down with the quarterfinals on Sunday, semifinals on Wednesday and final on April 19th.
Audi won the 2009 U.S. Open with brothers Gonzalito, Facundo and Nico Pieres, and lost in the 2010 final to Crab Orchard and 2011 final to Lechuza Caracas.
For the second consecutive 26-goal tournament, Audi got off to a quick start with a 2-0 record and seven-game win streak to earn a bye in the quarterfinals and rest for its horses.
Audi players will get an opportunity to prepare, view films and dissect its’ 10-5 loss to defending U.S. Open champion Alegria Assist Card on Wednesday at IPC.
Audi is 2-1 and Alegria Assist Card is 1-2 and already eliminated from defending its title.
Before a good crowd and worldwide Chukker TV audience, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 1, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Freddie Mannix, 6) got off to a slow start getting shut out by Alegria Assist Crowd (Julian Mannix, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre, Sterling Gianico) in the first two chukkers, 1-0 and 2-0.
Audi trailed 4-1 at the half and fell behind, 7-2, in the fourth chukker after Alegria Assist Card outscored Audi, 3-1.
Despite some outstanding goal saves by Freddie Mannix, Audi could never find its rhythm long enough to challenge for the lead in the remaining two chukkers. Audi could get no closer than four goals in the fifth chukker (8-4).
“We didn’t play very well today,” Mannix said. “We’ve been playing well but we didn’t today. We weren’t very good. We didn’t play our system. It was kind of disappointing we let off the gas a bit.”
Mannix played against his younger brother Julian Mannix, Alegria Assist Card’s player patron and senior at Florida Atlantic University.
“The other team is really good,” Mannix said. “Even though they didn’t win their first two games they are well-mounted and good players. They wanted to win and play for pride. They came to win and did their job.”
Gonzalito Pieres scored three goals for Audi. Ganzi and Andrade each had one.
Julian Mannix led his team with four goals. Ulloa and Gianico each had three goals.
Audi, one of the most successful polo teams in the last decade and 2009 U.S. Open champion, is sponsored by the German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles. Audi, founded in 1909, oversees its worldwide operations from its headquarters in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany.
Rodrigo Andrade of Audi and Sterling Gianico of Alegria Assist Card race downfield. Photo by Rob Bowman
The use of instant replay and team challenges during the 26-goal season continue to make a positive difference in the game. It’s been praised by players and patrons. Both Audi and Alegria Assist Card used the team challenges in both halves.
ChukkerTV, leaders in polo broadcasting, introduced the state-of-the-art technology in January, 2014 at Grand Champions Polo Club where it got rave reviews about the cutting-edge technology to help improve the sport and officiating.
Grand Champions was the first polo club in the world to offer the technology where teams are allowed to challenge an umpire’s call during a game.
It is the first time in the sport’s history, instant replay and team challenges are being utilized. No club in the world has used the technology. Only replays are used in Argentina and other tournaments around the world.
Chukker TV.com is live streaming all IPC high polo games through April 19th in addition to various Grand Champions Polo Club tournament games and also offers re-broadcasts, Video On Demand and player interviews.
Julian Mannix of Alegria Assist Card reaches for the ball in front of a crowd.
Photo by Rob Bowman
2015 POLO ON DEMAND
Grand Champions Polo Club, featuring five world-class fields, has a full schedule of tournaments from January to May. Let our polo experts create a turn-key experience including top pros to bring out the best in you and your team. Lessons are available.
16-GOAL TOURNAMENTS: John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy.
12-GOAL TOURNAMENT: Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup
8-GOAL TOURNAMENTS: APRIL USPA President’s Cup
6-GOAL TOURNAMENTS: APRIL Las Acacias Cup
SPRING 2015 SCHEDULE
April 16-19, Grand Champions Cup; April 23-26, USPA Spring Challenge; April 30-May 3, USPA Sun Cup; May 7-10, USPA Eastern Challenge; May 14-17, Polo Gear Challenge Cup; May 21-25,The Memorial; May 24-25, USPA NYTS; May 28-31, Santa Rita Memorial.