The opening round of play in the 2015 C. V. Whitney Cup got underway on Friday morning at the International Polo Club with four 26-goal games fielding all eight teams in this year’s competition.
Alegria (Julian Mannix, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Sterling Giannico), last year’s USPA Piaget Gold Cup finalist and US Open champion, took it out on Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Sugar Erskine, Pelon Stirling and Jeff Hall) in a 10am game that saw Coca-Cola trailing by as many as eight goals. The well-oiled teamwork of the Alegria team had their way with Coca-Cola, galloping out to a 9-2 halftime lead on their way to the 13-9 victory.
Alegria spotted Coca-Cola one goal by handicap, with 7-goaler Jeff Hall replacing Julio Arellano in the day’s 25-goal lineup., but put the first two goals from the field on the scoreboard for a 2-1 lead. Hilario Ulloa scored the first goal of the game followed by a goal from Mariano Aguerre. Pelon Stirling leveled the score at 2-2 with his first goal of the day, with Alegria team captain Julian Mannix scoring the final goal of the chukker for a one goal, 3-2 advantage.
Three more Alegria goals went unanswered in the second, with Aguerre scoring twice and Ulloa adding another goal. A resilient Alegria defense silenced the Coca-Cola attack as Alegria rode on to establish a 5-2 lead.
Three more goals by Alegria were accompanied by shutout defense in the third chukker. Ulloa converted a pair of penalty shots for goals and Mannix scored his second goal of the day from the field for a 9-2 halftime lead.
Stirling converted a 40-yard penalty shot in the fourth chukker, 9-3, but Alegria was awarded a goal on a Penalty 1 and added another goal from the field from Ulloa. With two chukkers left to play, Alegria was up by eight goals, 11-3.
Coca-Cola staged a rally in the firth. Jeff Hall scored twice and Stirling converted a 40-yard penalty shot. Coca-Cola was also awarded a goal on a Penalty 1. Alegria picked up single goals from Aguerre and Sterling Giannico. At the end of the fifth chukker, Alegria was sitting on top of a 13-7 score.
Stirling opened the final chukker with a goal from the field in the opening 30 seconds of play, 13-8, but the Alegria defense put the squeeze on the Coca-Cola attack. Stirling scored the only other goal of the chukker in the final minute of play as Alegria coasted to the 13-9 win.
Ulloa led the Alegria attack with five goals. Aguerre was credited with four goals; Mannix scored twice; Giannico added a goal and the team received one goal on a Penalty 1. Stirling scored five times (twice on penalty shots) for Coca-Cola. Hall picked up a pair of goals from the field. Coca-Cola received one goal by handicap and was awarded a goal on a Penalty 1.
The win eliminated Coca-Cola from the single elimination C. V. Whitney Cup while sending Alegria to Wednesday’s semifinals.
Audi/Millerville 10, Lechuza 9
Audi/Millerville (Marc Ganzi, Magoo Laprida, Rodrigo Andrade and Fred Mannix) charged out to a 9-4 halftime lead against but needed an appeal to reverse a game-tying goal in the sixth chukker for a 10-9 win over Lechuza (Victor Vargas, Nico Pieres, Juan Martin Nero and Agustin Garcia Grossi) in Friday’s noon contest.
Audi/Millerville received two goals by handicap from Lechuza but watched as 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero scored the opening goal from the field for Lechuza to trail 2-1.
In a defensive effort to save a goal, Lechuza fouled in the goal mouth resulting in Audi/Millerville being awarded a goal on a Penalty 1. Fred Mannix closed out the first chukker with a 40-yard penalty conversion and a 4-1 lead.
Nero scored a goal for Lechuza in the opening minute of the second period, cutting the Audi/Millerville lead to two goals, 4-2, when Audi/Millerville caught fire. Rodrigo Andrade scored his first goal of the day midway through the chukker, 5-2. Mannix converted an open back shot for a goal and a four goal, 6-2 lead. A penalty conversion by Lechuza’s Nico Pieres, with 18 seconds on the clock, ended the period with Audi/Millerville on top of the 6-3 score.
Pieres opened the third chukker with a 60-yard penalty conversion, 6-4, when Audi/Millerville stirred. Mannix scored on a 60-yard penalty shot and Magoo Laprida added two goals for a 9-4 halftime score.
The Lechuza offense rallied in the fourth chukker, shutting down the Audi/Millerville offense for the first time all day. Pieres converted a 40-yard penalty shot for the only goal of the period. Audi/Millerville continued to control the game with Lechuza trailing by four goals, 9-5.
Agustin Garcia Grossi scored from the field in the first minute of the fifth, cutting the Audi/Millerville lead to three goals, 9-6, and a foul resulted in Lechuza receiving a goal on a Penalty 1 call, 9-7. Andrade’s second goal of the game was countered by a 40-yard penalty goal from Pieres. The chukker ended with Audi/Millerville trying to hold on to a two goal, 10-8 lead.
Grossi scored his second goal of the day with less than a minute off of the clock, bringing Lechuza to within a goal of the lead, 10-9. Lechuza continued to press the attack with Audi/Millerville turning aside one assault after another. With 2:13 left in the game, the flag judges waved a shot by Nero for the tying goal, 10-10, with Audi/Millerville using their appeal to have the play reviewed. After an independent official reviewed the play on video, the ruling on the field was overturned, leaving Audi/Millerville in possession of a one goal lead, 10-9. Lechuza continued to attack, when a penalty gave the ball to Audi/Millerville, who ran out the clock and preserved the 10-9 victory.
Mannix led a balanced Audi/Millerville attack with three goals (two on penalty conversions). Laprida and Andrade scored two goals each; the team received one goal on a Penalty 1 and two goals by handicap. Lechuza got four penalty goals from Nico Pieres. Nero and Grossi scored two goals apiece in a losing effort.
With the win, Audi/Millerville earned a Wednesday semifinal berth against Alegria. Lechuza will begin preparing for the next tournament, the USPA Piaget Gold Cup.
Orchard Hill 16, Las Monjitas 11
Polo fans and enthusiasts had long awaited the appearance of Facundo Pieres and his cousin Polito Pieres with Steve Van Andel’s Orchard Hill team (Steve Van Andel, Polito Pieres, Facundo Pieres and Ezequiel Fernandez Ferrario), and they weren’t disappointed. Two of the best malletmen in the game, the Pieres boys didn’t disappoint as they combined for 14 goals and a 16-11 win over Las Monjitas (Camilo Bautista, Facundo Sola, Sebastian Merlos and Eduardo Novillo Astrada) in a 2pm game.
Facundo Pieres scored the first three goals of the game on penalty shots followed by a goal from the field from Polito Pieres. Facundo Sola got Las Monjitas on the scoreboard with a 60-yard penalty conversion with 41 seconds on the clock. The first chukker ended with Orchard Hill leading by three goals, 4-1.
Sebastian Merlos and Polito Pieres traded penalty goals in the opening minutes of the second period, 5-2. Facundo Pieres added a goal from the field midway through the chukker with Ezequiel Ferrario finishing off a long shot on goal by Facundo Pieres for a commanding 7-2 edge.
The talented Las Monjitas foursome began to gel in the third. Sola and Eduardo Novillo Astrada scored single goals to open the chukker, 7-4. Facundo Pieres responded with a goal from the field from 80-yards out. Merlos scored the final goal of the chukker at the 3:36 mark but Orchard Hill held the lead at the end of the first half, 8-5.
A pair of goals from Sola (one on a 40-yard penalty conversion) opened the second half, bringing Las Monjitas to within a goal of the lead, 8-7. Facundo Pieres converted a penalty shot for a goal, 9-7. Merlos answered back with a goal from the field at the three minute mark, 9-8. Ferrario closed out the fourth chukker with a field goal with one minute left on the clock. Orchard Hill continued to lead, 10-8.
In spite of Sola’s chukker-opening goal, the momentum remained with Orchard Hill and Facundo Pieres. The talented 10-goaler scored four consecutive goals (three on penalty shots) that extended the Orchard Hill lead to five goals, 14-9.
Polito Pieres reminded spectators that there was more than one Pieres on the field and he did it with the opening goal of the sixth period, 15-9. Merlos responded with a goal just a minute later, 15-10. Polito Pieres scored again, 16-10. With just over a minute left in regulation time, Sla scored the final goal of the tame in a 16-11 Valiente win.
Facundo Pieres led all scoring with an impressive ten goals (six on penalty shots). Polito Pieres added four goals and Ferreira was credited with two goals. Sola set the pace for Las Monjitas with six goals (two on penalty shots). Merlos added four goals and Astrada scored once in the loss.
The victory sends Orchard Hill into Wednesday’s final.
Valiente 9, FlexJet 7
In the final match of the day Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Alejo Taranco, Guillermo Terrera and Adolfo Cambiaso) was surprised by a talent-laden FlexJet entry (Melissa Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Miguel Novillo Astrada and Nic Roldan) that gave Valiente trouble all day long before securing the 9-7 win.
Adolfo Cambiaso scored the first goal of the game on a 60-yard penalty conversion at the six minute mark. Alejo Taranco made it 2-0, with a goal from the field. Gonzalito Pieres finally got FlexJet on the scoreboard with a goal from the field, 2-1. A Penalty 1 was assessed against the FlexJet team. The chukker ended with Valiente holding on to a 3-1 lead.
Pieres converted a penalty shot for a goal followed by two field goals from Taranco for a 5-2 lead. FlexJet continued to have trouble creating an effective attack and fell behind by three goals.
Bob Jornayvaz scored the first goal of the third chukker, followed by a 30-yar