Orchard Hill suffered a disappointing 11-10 defeat to an outstanding Coca-Cola team in the first Ylvisaker Cup Semifinal at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Firing on all cylinders, Coca-Cola took an early 3-2 lead in the first chukker with a standout performance from Julio Arellano resulting in three goals. Coca-Cola continued their momentum throughout the second and third chukkers, showcasing incredible teamwork. Orchard Hill maintained a respectable gap throughout the game, however their lack of dominance compared to previous Ylvisaker Cup matches left them trailing by three at the half 8-5.
A missed penalty opportunity at the opening of the second half did not bode well for Orchard Hillbut Facundo Pieres was able to redeem himself with a penalty 2 conversion following another goal from Arellano. With a 9-6 score moving into the fifth, Del Walton’s substitute and Team USPA member Wes Finlayson scored the only goal of the chukker to widen Coca-Cola’s lead to 4 goals. When asked about the last minute substitution of Wesley Finlayson, Julio Arellano answered, “You hope for the best, you don’t know how he’s going to fit into the team with the horses and everything and I have to be honest, he’s definitely beyond my expectations. Fabulous, he’s been a pleasure to have on board.”
Polo fans were rewarded in the final chukker with an excellent comeback rally by Orchard Hill. Pieres began with a penalty conversion to close the gap 10-7 which was quickly answered by Arellano. At the two-minute mark, Pieres’ horse fell resulting in an injury and subsequent substitution. Polito Pieres entered the game with unparalleled determination, scoring two immediate goals for Orchard Hill. Now within two 11-9, Nico Escobar followed with another field goal for Orchard Hill. It was too little too late from the tournament favorite, and their valiant effort was cut short as the thirty-second horn sounded to end regulation play. Edging past Orchard Hill, Coca-Cola secured the first spot in the Ylvisaker Cup Final with a closing score 11-10.