In a much-anticipated rematch, Audi and White Birch will meet in the championship final of the prestigious USPA East Coast Open Sunday at Greenwich Polo Club.
Audi (3-1), one of the most dominant polo teams in the last decade, is looking for redemption after losing to White Birch, 13-9, in bracket play last Sunday.
Undefeated and defending champion White Birch (4-0) is looking to extend its dominance in the historic tournament where its first polo match was played in New York City 125 years ago.
The 20-goal tournament winners will add their names to an elite list of polo champions on the coveted Perry Cup, which has been restored.
A sellout crowd of more than 2,000 is expected to attend. Gates open at 1 p.m. and the match begins at 3 p.m. Extra bleacher setting has been added to accommodate the overflow crowd.
No. 2 seed Audi (Marc Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan, Miguel Novillo Astrada) advanced with an impressive 14-10 victory over No. 3 seed Airstream (Peter Orthwein, Guille Aguero, Matias Magrini, Michel Dorignac) on Wednesday, showing more flashes of brilliance than mental lapses which plagued Audi against White Birch.
The total team effort was led by Roldan with seven goals. Astrada had four goals. Bollini and Ganzi each had one goal.
Audi played wide open polo and was aggressive from the opening chukker. Working well together, Audi scored five consecutive goals before Magrini scored Airstream’s first goal with three minutes left in the second chukker.
Bollini, at 19, one of the youngest players in the tournament, turned in his finest performance of the tournament.
Bollini defended the veteran Magrini well and scored an incredible goal in the opening chukker when he took a perfect pass from Novillo-Astrada and scored on a nearside neck shot to give Audi a 3-0 lead. Bollini also deflected Michael Dorignac’s penalty goal attempt. Ganzi called him “the MVP of the game.”
Audi led from wire-to-wire with a 6-2 advantage after two chukkers; 8-5 halftime lead; 12-5 cushion after four chukkers and six goals after five chukkers. Airstream tried to dig itself out of a hole in the final chukker with back-to-back goals but could get no closer than four goals.
In the other semifinal, top-seed White Birch (Santino Magrini, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre, Peter Brant) defeated KIG (Bash Kazi, Valerio Zubiaurre, Mariano Obregon, Pelon Escapite), 11-7, also on Wednesday.
Ulloa, the tournament’s leading scorer, led White Birch with five goals. Magrini, at 14, the youngest player in the tournament, played well defensively and scored four goals. Aguerre added two goals. Zubiaurre led KIG scoring with three goals.
Audi, competing in its first major tournament in the Northeast, also defeated KIG, 11-6, and Turkish Airlines, 14-9, in earlier games of the six-team tournament.
Audi, the tournament’s luxury automotive sponsor, will be part of the closing ceremony in Sunday final. Audi cars will bring both teams to the post-game award ceremonies. The cars will also be on display.
Audi and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury cars. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally.
The Audi Group delivered more than 1,741,000 vehicles to customers globally in 2014 and broke all-time company sales records for the fifth consecutive year in the U.S. Visit www.audiusa.com or www.audiusa.com/newsroom for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.
NBC Sports Network with color analyst and polo great Adam Snow will air a 60-minute national broadcast of the Sept. 6 final on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. with drone aerials and instant replays for team challenges provided by ChukkerTV, the leaders in broadcasting that live streamed every preliminary and semifinal game.
The East Coast Open began in 1905 in Rhode Island and was played until World War I. It was resurrected in 1978 by former USPA President Donald Little at the Myopia Polo Club in South Hamilton, Mass. White Birch padron Peter Brant started hosting the tournament in the early 2000’s at Greenwich Polo Club.
On Friday at 10 a.m., McLaren Greenwich (Chris Brant, Nick
Manifold, Joao Paulo Ganon, Tommy Biddle) and Turkish Airlines (Bruce Colley/Joe Meyer, Joaquin Panelo, Tomas Garcia del Rio, Stevie Orthwein) will play for the Tommy B. Glynn Auxiliary Cup.
On Saturday at 4 p.m., Airstream will play KIG in the Subsidiary Cup of the USPA East Coast Open.
By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb