Story courtesy of International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Riding onto the fields of the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) for the first time in 18-goal play, La Fe (Lucas Escobar*, Robi Bilbao, Francisco Elizalde, Louis Devaleix) have been competitive in each of their games this season, all of which have been decided by one or two goals. Displaying a mix of youth and experience, La Fe is gearing up to challenge for the Ylvisaker Cup title before moving into the 22-goal GAUNTLET OF POLO® with Lucas Diaz Alberdi set to join the team.
A thrilling debut for La Fe put them into the spotlight of the Iglehart Cup Final on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field and despite suffering an 11-10 overtime loss to Beverly Polo, they demonstrated a well-rounded team that quickly found chemistry on offense and defense. On the offensive end, La Fe is led by 9-goaler Elizalde, who has begun the season averaging 4.3 goals per game.
Francisco Elizalde soars at top speed.
After a successful season in the Argentine Triple Crown with the famed La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team, Elizalde has been a mainstay at IPC in recent years, competing with Tonkawa in 2021 and Las Monjitas in 2020 where he captured the C.V. Whitney Cup®. Scoring eight goals in La Fe’s victory over Beverly Polo to begin the Joe Barry Memorial, Elizalde has been a true end-to-end player, contributing on the defensive end while also collecting six assists before falling in a shootout for a place in the final.
Lucas Escobar on a breakaway.
While Elizalde has been the cog of La Fe’s attack, young Escobar continues his rise in the sport, contributing effectively in the number one position. Newly rated at a 4-goal handicap, Escobar is quickly justifying the increase by consistently generating scoring chances, adding four goals and four assists in his opening two games of the Joe Barry Memorial. Drawing on experience from his competition at the highest level of play in the U.S. where he competed with Pilot and Tonkawa in the GAUNTLET OF POLO®, Escobar continues to improve each year and display an on-field IQ that will help La Fe push forward into the 22-goal.
Robi Bilbao carries the ball down field at speed.
First seen in the 18-goal at IPC in 2021 with Palm Beach Equine, Bilbao has found a permanent place on La Fe as he has been instrumental in his team’s debut season. Scoring four goals in the Iglehart Cup Final, including the game-tying goal that sent the match into overtime, Bilbao has been a tireless worker in the middle of the game, supporting Elizalde off the ball while also effectively transitioning to defense.
Collecting five goals in the Joe Barry Memorial, Bilbao has been a steady force for La Fe, leading the team in throw wins and winning the small plays that can ultimately lead to victory. Bilbao has followed up a successful 2021 season where he averaged 2.6 goals per game with a consistent 2022 season as he will remain on La Fe and join the GAUNTLET OF POLO® for the first time in his career.
Louis Devaleix has collected three goals in La Fe’s first four games.
Leading La Fe onto the field is team owner Louis Devaleix, manning the back of the field in the number four position. Relatively new to polo, Devaleix’s dedication is evident as he shows improvement with each passing game, quickly adapting to the pace of high-goal play.
Large in stature, Devaleix brings a strong presence, yet showcases a strong riding ability to stay with his mark and attempt to enter any play. Finding a few opportunities to move forward in the game, Devaleix has collected three goals through La Fe’s first four games and will continue to immerse himself among the top players in the world with the GAUNTLET OF POLO looming.
*Lucas Escobar is an Active Team USPA Member. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.