Story Courtesy of International Polo Club Palm Beach.
An action-packed start to the third round of the 2020 USPA Gold Cup® featured three games, with upsets occurring in each game including Dutta Corp handing Las Monjitas their first loss of the season with an impressive 20-11 victory. Santa Clara defeated C.V. Whitney Cup finalist La Indiana 10-7, while Equuleus narrowly edged Coca-Cola 8-7 for their first victory of the tournament at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.
The opening game featured a stunning performance from Dutta Corp, who produced the highest goal total of the season with 20 goals against previously undefeated Las Monjitas. Dutta Corp was efficient from both the field and the penalty line, where they shot 86% and 80% respectively, in what provided to be a foul-ridden game with 29 fouls. Limiting Las Monjitas’ opportunities from the field, Dutta Corp completed the dominant 20-11 victory.
Eight fouls in the opening two chukkers from Las Monjitas resulted in five penalty goals for the duo of Facundo and Mariano Obregon as Dutta Corp raced out to a large lead. Conceding possessions, Las Monjitas was kept off the scoreboard, while Dutta Corp produced six goals, receiving at least one goal from each player for a quick 6-0 lead. After a Penalty 2 conversion from Francisco Elizalde, Dutta Corp went on another goal run, scoring four unanswered goals, three from Mariano Obregon to finish the second chukker with a 10-1 lead. Playing at a lightning-quick pace, Dutta Corp overwhelmed Las Monjitas across the entire field and took advantage of each opportunity to lead by 10 goals at halftime.
Entering the game as the lone undefeated team, Las Monjitas was stunned by Dutta Corp’s relentless attack that continued to extend their lead further. The umpire’s whistle slowed play in the second half as scoring turned to the penalty line, with Facundo Obregon adding two more penalty goals. Finishing the fourth chukker and still yet to score from the field, a frustrated Las Monjitas side were left facing an insurmountable 16-4 deficit with two chukkers remaining. Sitting back defensively over the final two chukkers, Dutta Corp finally conceded their first field goal to Bautista Panelo, who replaced an injured Mackenzie Weisz, but Dutta Corp cruised to the convincing 20-11 victory, improving to 3-0 in the tournament.
In the second game of the day, La Indiana and Santa Clara battled it out on field 4.
The second game of the day featured La Indiana (2-0) against Santa Clara (1-1), but it was Santa Clara who controlled play throughout the match. Five goals each from Ignatius Du Plessis and Polito Pieres led their respective teams, but it was an organized defense from Santa Clara, holding La Indiana to 3 for 10 shooting from the field that proved to be the difference in the victory. Luis Escobar opened the scoring for Santa Clara, but a penalty 3 conversion from Pieres, along with a field goal from Jeff Hall gave La Indiana the early 2-1 lead. In one of the most decisive chukkers of the match, Santa Clara produced four goals in quick succession, led by two from Du Plessis and an impressive goal from Henry Porter to race into a 5-2 advantage on the scoreboard. Fouls from Santa Clara slowed their momentum to finish the half, but they maintained their three-goal lead heading into halftime.
Focused on making their comeback, La Indiana fought to create chances at goal, but Santa Clara’s strong defense made their shot attempts difficult. Converting just one of their first six shot attempts, La Indiana saw their deficit grow to four with Du Plessis pacing the Santa Clara attack. The duo of Pieres and Hall combined for three goals as La Indiana found their footing in the fifth chukker, pulling within two goals as excitement rose around the field in a potential comeback. A clutch Penalty 4 conversion from Du Plessis to begin the final chukker gave Santa Clara a commanding three-goal lead, which they didn’t give up, capturing the 10-7 victory, matching La Indiana’s 2-1 record atop Bracket I.
Coca-Cola’s Gillian Johnston flies down the field as Equuleus’ Iñaki Laprida close behind.
The final game of the day on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1 displayed a defensive battle between Coca-Cola and Equuleus that came down to the final second on a penalty conversion from Mariano Gonzalez. Despite inaccurate shooting from the field and the penalty line, Equuleus outshot Coca-Cola 17-10, with the extra attempts leading them to the narrow victory. A back-and-forth start to the game resulted in the teams trading goals, deadlocked 2-2 after the first chukker. The duo of Iñaki and Magoo Laprida combined for a three-goal run that gave Equuleus control of the game, but before the end of the half, Coca-Cola responded with back-to-back goals from Nico Pieres and Julian de Lusarreta.
Defense highlighted the second half of the feature game, leaving the teams within one goal of each other over the final three chukkers. Steve Krueger’s second goal of the game tied the score at 5-5, but scoring was hard to come by for the remainder of the game, with five of the final six goals coming from the penalty line. Penalty goals from Gonzalez and Pieres sent the outcome into the final chukker as spectators were treated to a close finish. Drawing a foul in the final seconds, Equuleus had a Penalty 2 attempt for the victory as time was expiring and Gonzalez converted the chance, sending Equuleus to the thrilling 8-7 victory. Magoo Laprida captured Most Valuable Player honors, while his mare Nike was named the Best Playing Pony.
Photos courtesy of ©Alex Pacheco.