On Wednesday, June 8, four teams entered the Cartier Queen’s Cup semifinals at Guards Polo Club in Windsor, Berkshire, with hopes to seal their spot in Sunday’s prestigious final. The opening match on The Duke’s Ground featured Park Place (Andrey Borodin*, Francisco Elizalde*, Tommy Marin-Moreno, Facundo Pieres*) led by the firepower of 10-goaler Pieres, versus Great Oaks LL (Dillon Bacon, James Beim, Cruz Heguy, Juan Martin Nero*), who were looking to recapture the title they held just two years earlier.
Great Oaks LL’s James Beim on a breakaway.
A consistent source of attacking play from the penalty line throughout the tournament, Great Oaks LL’s Heguy, who was later named Cartier’s Most Valuable Player, struck first from the 40-yard line, followed by a second penalty off the mallet of Nero to take advantage of Park Place’s early foul troubles and seize a two-goal lead. Blanking Park Place in a second consecutive chukker, Heguy, and Nero each found the goal once more to increase their lead to four.
Missing two penalty attempts in the first half of play, eight shots on goal from the field for Park Place finally led to their first goal of the match from Pieres. However, the first half story was the dominant defensive effort from Great Oaks LL, whose tournament-best defense held the strong Park Place attack to just one goal to take a 4-1 lead into halftime.
Park Place’s Facundo Pieres taps the ball ahead of Great Oaks LL defenders.
Finally finding an attacking rhythm in the later stages of the fourth chukker, Pieres and Elizalde combined for three-goals in open play, but further foul trouble prevented Park Place from pulling even on the scoreboard. Two penalty conversions from Heguy, along with a drive from Beim from the field extended Great Oaks LL’s lead 7-5. Providing a final defensive stand in the sixth chukker, Great Oaks LL successfully kept Park Place off the scoreboard for the third time in the contest.
Adding an additional two goals, Heguy finished his day with six, including three from the penalty line to confirm Great Oaks LL’s 9-5 victory. In their semifinal triumph, Great Oaks LL received the Hubert Perrodo Trophy from Laurent Feniou of Cartier U.K. and Carrie Perrodo. Nero’s Osa, whom he had played in the second and sixth chukkers was also named the Cartier Best Playing Pony.
Cartier Best Playing Pony Osa, played by Juan Martin Nero.
Moving to the historic Queen’s Ground, the second Park Place team (Josh Hyde*, Juan Britos*, Hilario Ulloa*, Santos Merlos) organization sought their place in the final against La Magdeleine (Pablo Mac Donough*, Min Podesta, Ollie Cudmore, Alexandre Garese) led by tournament stand-out Mac Donough. The most proficient team in open play, Park Place Vaara quickly asserted their fast style of play in the opening chukker with Ulloa scoring two goals, while La Magdeleine were held scoreless over the opening seven minutes of play.
However, Mac Donough responded with two goals of his own. Evident that a close back-and-forth game was going to decide this match, Ulloa added two more field goals to restore his team’s two-goal advantage. These players continued to lead their respective teams into the end of the half, with Ulloa contributing on all five first half goals with an assist to Hyde, while La Magdeleine inched within one after Mac Donough’s third tally and a field goal from Cartier’s Most Valuable Player Podesta.
Josh Hyde contributed three goals in Park Place Vaara’s victory.
The low-fouling game resulted in a thrilling match and end-to-end action with Park Place Vaara scoring all their goals from open play. A combined team effort out of the break saw Ulloa, Hyde and Britos score a goal each during a strong fourth chukker to extend their lead to three. Active in the Number 1 position, Hyde broke through once more to provide some breathing room and give Park Place Vaara a 10-6 advantage with time beginning to run out for La Magdeleine.
Park Place Vaara’s Hilario Ulloa drives to the goal.
Park Place Vaara found themselves in foul trouble in the final minutes, conceding two penalty goals to Mac Donough. Running nearly the length of the field, Mac Donough’s third goal of the chukker suddenly brought La Magdeleine within one with two minutes left on the clock. Thwarting multiple attempts from La Magdeleine to run downfield, Park Place Vaara held off the late comeback 10-9 to receive the Kerry Packer Trophy from Laurent Feniou and Ben Barham and claim their spot in the final against Great Oaks LL. Ulloa received the Cartier Best Playing Pony prize for Lavinia Ambar, whom he had played in the first and fifth chukkers.
Cartier Best Playing Pony Lavinia Ambar, played by Hilario Ulloa.
The Cartier Queen’s Cup final between Great Oaks LL and Park Place Vaara will take place Sunday, June 12, at 10:30am ET and will be available on-demand on Global Polo TV.
*GAUNTLET OF POLO Alumni
All photos courtesy of ©Images of Polo.