Wellington, FL – March 24, 2021 – The highly-anticipated semifinals of the 2021 USPA Gold Cup® lived up to the hype as Tonkawa, La Indiana, Scone, and Park Place battled for their place in Sunday’s final. Withstanding a second-half surge from La Indiana that sent the game into overtime, Tonkawa’s Francisco Elizalde scored the golden goal, giving Tonkawa the 13-12 victory. In a rematch of the C.V. Whitney Cup® final, Scone avenged their loss, holding off a last-second scoring attempt from Park Place to claim the 9-8 victory at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The first semifinal was a tale of two halves with Tonkawa building a six-goal lead in the first half and La Indiana storming back to force overtime in the final two chukkers. After shooting seven for nine in the first half, Tonkawa was held without a field goal over the final three chukkers, missing all seven shot attempts until Elizalde broke through in overtime. Relying on their 10-goaler Polito Pieres in the comeback, La Indiana’s accurate shooting from the field and the penalty line pulled them even but ended up a goal short in a thrilling first semifinal.
Two high-powered offenses promised an exciting game and it began in the first chukker with six combined goals. Pieres opened the scoring for La Indiana, but a Penalty 2 conversion from Caset, followed by Jeff Hildebrand’s first goal pushed Tonkawa into the lead. The individual performance from Caset in the first seven minutes where he scored three goals gave Tonkawa the early edge, with La Indiana trying to return to the USPA Gold Cup® final. Building on their momentum from the first chukker, Tonkawa’s Caset and Elizalde added one goal each to extend their consecutive goal streak to four as La Indiana struggled to convert their chances around goal. The game ultimately changed in the third chukker as Tonkawa dominated the final stages of the first half, converting four of their five shot attempts to outscore La Indiana 4-1 in the chukker and exit the half with a commanding 10-4 lead.
Trading Penalty 2 conversions for the only offense in the fourth chukker, La Indiana was left facing a six-goal deficit with just two chukkers remaining against a Tonkawa team determined to make their first final in the Gauntlet of Polo®. A determined La Indiana team came alive in the fifth chukker, holding Tonkawa off the scoreboard and following the lead of Pieres, who scored three of his team’s four goals in the chukker, quickly bringing the deficit to just two goals and setting up a tense final chukker. Pieres struck again for La Indiana’s fifth consecutive goal, pulling within one as they continued to chip away at the lead. With two minutes left in the game, Michael Bickford jumped on a loose ball and shot the ball off the post and in, sending the game into overtime. Beginning with a throw-in just 40 yards from their own goal, La Indiana was unable to escape their own half as Tonkawa’s Elizalde wove through the defense and hit a neckshot just inside the post to claim the hard-fought 13-12 victory.
Facing each other for the first time since the C.V. Whitney Cup® final, Park Place and Scone were caught in another battle that once again came down to the final second. Tied after each of the first three chukkers and both shooting above 50% from the field, little separated the two teams until a 2-0 fourth chukker in favor of Scone gave them the edge for the remainder of the game. Adolfo Cambiaso was crucial throughout the second half, scoring four of his team’s five goals to help overcome two for six penalty shooting for Scone and survive a late push for Park Place that had the ball in front of their goal as time expired.
The opening chukker set the tone for the match as both Scone and Park Place were tightly marked, making scoring chances hard to come by. Juan Britos opened the scoring on the receiving end of a pass from Hilario Ulloa, but before the end of the chukker, Peke Gonzalez provided a response for Scone, leaving the score at 1-1. The duo of Adolfo Cambiaso and Gonzalez were matched by Park Place’s Ulloa and Britos in a back-and-forth game. Two quick goals from Scone gave them a two-goal lead for the first time, but Park Place produced a run of their own on consecutive field goals to restore the tie. Two missed penalty attempts in the first half kept Scone from taking the lead into halftime as the teams remained deadlocked after the third chukker, setting up a high-pressure second half to reach the final.
Scone made the first push of the game in the fourth chukker, holding Park Place off the scoresheet and led offensively by their 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso. A Penalty 4 conversion for Cambiaso, along with a field goal from Gonzalez resulted in Scone holding the 6-4 lead and leaving Park Place to fight from behind for the first time in the game. Cambiaso continued his strong play, scoring to begin the fifth chukker and looking to pull away, but after a goal-line stand by Ulloa, Coppola completed the play on the other end, bringing Park Place back within one. Ulloa tied the game in the early stages of the sixth chukker, but after scoring to put Scone back in the lead, Adolfo Cambiaso left the ball in front of goal and Gonzalez converted the neckshot to seemingly seal the win. However, with time running out, Park Place received a Penalty 1 with seven seconds remaining and a chance to tie the game. A long hit from Coppola put the ball in front of the Scone goal, but it was unable to be converted as Scone celebrated the 9-8 victory and will meet Tonkawa in the USPA Gold Cup® final, where a new champion will be crowned.
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