The third day of bracket play in the U.S. Open Polo Championship® began at Grand Champions Polo Club with a match-up between GAUNTLET newcomers Polo Training Foundation and Sol de Agosto, as Polo Training Foundation’s accuracy from the penalty line kept them in contention to overtake their competitors in a late game 11-10 comeback victory. Reconvening on Field 5 at International Polo Club (IPC) for the final match of the doubleheader, La Elina and Scone adjusted to their roster reconstructions on the fly, where Scone’s Poroto Cambiaso finally claimed the upper hand to take the heated battled 13-12 in overtime.
Following a 60-yard conversion from Sol de Agosto’s 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero, Polo Training Foundation’s strong team play sized control of the first chukker with three consecutive field goals from Nic Roldan, Carlitos Gracida and Jesse Bray. Able to draw the Penalty 1, Grant Ganzi kicked off an assertive Sol de Agosto response with a goal from Victorino “Torito” Ruiz Jorba, followed by Nero’s second Penalty 4 conversion. Finding space in the field, Jorba wound through traffic on back-to-back goals in the early stages of the fourth, and despite an answer from Polo Training Foundation’s Bray, Sol de Agosto entered the break holding a 6-4 lead.
Committing only three fouls in the first half, Sol de Agosto aided Polo Training Foundation’s comeback bid by adding an additional seven fouls in the final chukkers of play. Sending Gracida to the line three times in the fourth and fifth, an additional Gracida goal from the field helped to boost Polo Training back into a 9-7 lead entering the final chukker of play. Suddenly facing a two-goal deficit, a determined Jorba hit the posts for his fourth goal of the match, kick-starting a run of back-to-back goals for Sol de Agosto to re-take a one goal advantage.
With just over two minutes of play in regulation, Polo Training Foundation’s Roldan received a double yellow card, forcing him to the penalty box for the remainder of the match. Still trailing 9-10, Polo Training Foundation regrouped and utilized Gracida’s accuracy from the line for his fifth conversion, tapping in the Penalty 2 pull his team even with Sol de Agosto once more. Committing their tenth foul of the match, Sol de Agosto put the possession back into the hands of Bray on a Penalty 5, where a soaring shot downfield found a waiting Matias Gonzalez. Pushing the ball past the line, Polo Training Foundation completed their spectacular 11-10 comeback, scoring two shorthanded goals without their 8-goaler in Roldan to spoil the debut of Sol de Agosto.
Bringing the second match back to IPC, La Elina and Scone took to Field 5 with their reconfigured rosters following an injury to Scone’s captain Adolfo Cambiaso in the semifinals of the USPA Gold Cup®. Originally slated to compete with La Elina, 10-goaler Guillermo “Sapo” Caset made his debut with La Elina, while the new look of La Elina included the additions of Juan Martin, Geronimo, and Facundo Obregon. Wasting no time to make his impression in the GAUNTLET, Juan Martin Obregon scored twice for La Elina from the field and penalty line. Entering the U.S. Open with forty-five goals on the season, Kristos “Keko” Magrini mounted a quick response for Scone, only to be answered by Juan Martin and Geronimo Obregon. Trailing 4-1 at the end of the second chukker, Caset finally found his rhythm in the field to initiate a five-goal Scone takeover, including a crucial Penalty 1 from Magrini, followed by a successful Penalty 5 conversion off the mallet of Cambiaso to Caset. Scoring three goals for his new team in the first half, Caset’s early contributions lifted Scone to the 6-4 halftime lead.
Despite a quick goal from La Elina’s Juan Martin Obregon to start the second half, the fourth chukker was once again dominated by a lightning-fast Scone, as Caset managed to outrun the La Elina defenders and maintain their two-goal lead. Drawing their second Penalty 1 of the match, this time from the efforts of Cambiaso, Scone once again completed the two-goal swing with another successful Penalty 5 tapped in by Magrini. Feeling the dire consequences of committing two Penalty 1 fouls in the match, La Elina regrouped to mount a powerful fifth chukker response. Kicking off their comeback attempt with a 60-yard conversion from Juan Martin Obregon, all three Obregon’s found the scoreboard, combining for four goals to take a narrow 11-10 lead.
Storming back in the sixth, Cambiaso scored his third of the match, while a third Penalty 1 awarded to Scone pushed them back on top 12-11. Leading La Elina with six goals, including four from the field, Juan Martin Obregon capped off his spectacular day sending one more between the posts to force overtime. Fighting for possession throughout the extra chukker, both teams displayed grit and physicality, but ultimately it was 9-goaler Cambiaso stepping up in absence of his father. Driving the ball between the posts one last time, Cambiaso celebrated the 13-12 the golden goal with teammate Magrini, keeping Scone undefeated in bracket play in the GAUNTLET.
The U.S. Open Polo Championship® continues April 1, as CK Shack will face-off against SD Farms at IPC’s Isla Carroll West at 11:00am ET. The second match of Friday’s doubleheader at 3:00pm ET will feature the debut of Casablanca against reigning US Gold Cup® champions Park Place.
Photo Credit ©Alex Pacheco