Audi Defeats Coca-Cola To Capture Hall Of Fame Cup; Alejandro Novillo Astrada Named MVP
By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
Audi ended the 26-goal winter season on a successful note with a thrilling 13-11 victory over Coca-Cola to win the Hall of Fame Cup Wednesday at Isla Carroll West.
It was the second time Audi (Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Magoo Laprida, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) defeated Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Julio Arellano, Miguel Novillo Astrada/Lucas Criado) in seven days.
In 113th U.S. Open bracket play, Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi defeated Coca-Cola, 14-8.
Argentine 8-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada playing against brother and 9-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada was named Most Valuable Player.
“It was very important to win this game and to finish the season the best way,” said Alejandro Novillo Astrada.
“We were a new team. We were in many of the games we played, but we couldn’t win. When we beat Coca-Cola in the bracket and now it was good to win again. We only lost to Orchard Hill by one and now they are in the final. It’s not nice to lose like that (11-10) in a quarterfinal.
“It was good to finish with a win. We were playing well. With a little more time maybe it could have been a different story. But we only played the Open and I think we did quite a good job. Maybe the results were not the ones we were expecting but it was a good way to finish.”
The hotly-contested game was a seesaw battle the whole way. Coca-Cola jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening chukker with Arellano converting two penalty-two goals. Audi quickly reeled them in by the end of the chukker to trail, 3-2, highlighted by Roldan taking advantage of a Coca-Cola broken play and taking it to goal.
Audi tied it 3-3 when Roldan score again off the bowl-in. The lead changed hands four times before the half ended at 5-5 after the teams battled to a 0-0 tie in the third chukker.
Early in the fourth chukker, Miguel Novillo Astrada was hit in the back with a ball and was replaced by Lucas Criado.
The lead changed seven more times before Audi took a 10-8 advantage with 2:14 left in the fifth chukker when Roldan found Ganzi open for a goal.
Coca-Cola tied the game twice in the sixth chukker, 10-10 and 11-11, before Laprida scored at the 3:26 mark and Roldan added an insurance goal at 1:55.
Roldan scored a game-high five goals, including three penalty conversions. Novillo Astrada had four goals, Laprida scored three and Ganzi added one.
Arellano led Coca-Cola with four goals. Miguel Novillo Astrada, his injury replacement Criado and Johnston each had two goals and de Lusarreta added one goal. De Lusarreta’s horse, Bossanova,
was named Best Playing Pony.
Novillo Astrada plans to remain at Grand Champions Polo Club to play spring polo for two weeks.
He will then head to England to compete and return to the U.S. to play at Aspen Valley Polo Club in the summer.
The Hall of Fame Cup is the subsidiary game of the 113th U.S. Open which will feature defending champion Orchard Hill playing Valiente on Sunday at 3 p.m. at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Valiente, winners of this season’s C.V. Whitney Cup and USPA Gold Cup, is going for America’s Triple Crown in polo. The last team to do it was George Rawlings’ Crab Orchard in 2010.
Rated No. 1 by Consumer Reports as the best auto brand overall, Audi is a valued sponsor with a
rich winning tradition in polo. The German automobile manufacturer designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles throughout the world including West Palm Beach.
The tournament is being live-streamed on the USPA Polo Network at uspolo.org with content provided by production company and Wellington-based ChukkerTV. All games will also be available for on-demand viewing.
Grand Champions Polo Club, with its eleven well-manicured polo fields, caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.