The USPA Gold Cup Final
With the rain delaying play, the 2019 USPA Gold Cup Final was moved from its scheduled date of Sunday 24 March to Monday 25 March. Going into the Final, both teams seemed evenly matched and undefeated, with both Aspen and Pilot winning their Semi Final matches with scores of 9-8. With The USPA Gold Cup forming part of The Gauntlet of Polo, there was $125,000 in prize money up for grabs for the winner, additionally as Pilot also won The C.V. Whitney Cup Final, they are the only team in with a chance of winning the $1,000,000 prize pot if they manage to win all three Gauntlet of Polo tournaments, and so a win in The USPA Gold Cup was crucial to keep this aspiration alive.
The match began with Pilot trailing, an unusual start for a team more used to leading the goal scoring charge, with Aspen’s Polito Pieres pushing his team into an early 5-2 lead. However, Pilot continued undeterred and managed to tie the scores 6-6 in the third chukka.
As both teams rode back onto the ground for the second half, there was everything to play for and neither team was willing to budge an inch, with the defences tightly locked down on both sides, which resulted in a goalless fourth chukka. However, the tempo quickened in the fifth chukka, with end-to-end action and just one penalty whistle slowing down the pace.
At the start of the sixth chukka, Aspen game out on the attack and quickly scored two goals to take them into the lead, but with Pilot’s undefeated record to maintain, Facundo Pieres secured a field goal from 40 yards to send the Final into overtime. Within the first minute of the extra chukka Pilot forced Aspen into making two consecutive fouls, placing Facundo Pieres on the 60 yard line taking aim to strike a penalty shot worth $125,000. He coolly converted the penalty to secure Pilot not just The USPA Gold Cup title and hefty prize money, but also maintain Pilot’s undefeated scoresheet in The Gauntlet of Polo, meaning they are still in with a chance of winning the overall title and with it the $1,000,000 pot of gold.
The Gauntlet of Polo continues with The CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship which began on Wednesday 27 March and concludes on Sunday 21 April.
The USPA Gold Cup Final Teams:
Pilot (22): Curtis Pilot (0), Matías González (3), Gonzalito Pieres (9) & Facundo Pieres (10)
Aspen (22): Tomas Schwencke (2), Lucas James (7), Polito Pieres (10) & Stewart Armstrong (3)
Photograph: Pilot secured their second Gauntlet of Polo title yesterday, The USPA Gold Cup. By Alex Pacheco/IPC