by U.S. Polo Correspondent Alex Webbe

Villa Del Lago 8-goaler Polito Pieres scored the first two goals of Wednesday afternoon’s 20-goal Joe Barry Memorial Cup semifinal at the International Polo Club in Wellington, but it would be Marc Ganzi’s Audi team that would ride off with the 9-7 win. With the Audi team struggling to find any offense, Villa Del Lago scored two unanswered goals from the field from Polito Pieres for an early 2-0 lead.

The first goal came nearly halfway into the seven minute chukker while the second goal came with just 42 seconds left in regulation play. Audi managed to right the ship in the second chukker with a pair of goals from Nic Roldan (one on a penalty conversion) and a goal from the field from teammate Carlitos Gracida. Polito Pieres continued to have the hot hand as he responded with three goals of his own. Polito Pieres scored two times from the field and converted a 30-yard penalty shot. Villa Del Lago continued to lead, 5-3.

The Audi defense came up strong in the third, shutting down the Villa Del Lago offense for the first time all day. Mark Ganzi scored his first goal of the game, cutting the Villa Del Lago lead to a single goal, 5-4, at the end of the first half. Roldan added two more penalty goals in the fourth and Ganzi added another goal from the field for Audi. Polito Pieres and Agustin Obregon each scored a goal for Villa Del Lago, who found themselves deadlocked at 7-7.

It was five minutes into the fifth chukker before either team mounted a successful attack. A foul by a defending Villa Del Lago player sent Roldan to the penalty line where he scored on a 40-yard penalty shot. Audi took the lead for the first time all day, 8-7. For the second consecutive chukker Villa Del Lago was unable to find any offensive spark. Ganzi’s third goal of the game came with over six minutes left in the period, but Villa Del Lago was unable to score and Audi drove off with the 9-7 victory and a berth in Sunday’s Joe Barry Memorial Cup final. Polito Pieres scored six goals (one on a penalty shot) for Villa Del Lago. Teammate Agustin Obregon added a single goal in the loss. Nic Roldan’s five goals (four on penalty conversions) led the Audi attack. Marc Ganzi scored three times and Carlitos Gracida added a goal in the win.

CRAB ORCHARD 12, ZACARA 11
In the day’s second semifinal of the Joe Barry Memorial Cup the combination of Mariano Aguerre and Matias Magrini scored a combined twelve goals, lifting Crab Orchard to an exciting 12-11 win over a powerful and talented Zacara foursome. Zacara was slow to start with Mariano Aguerre scoring the first goal of the game with just over three minutes gone in the opening chukker. Both goals came from the field and went unanswered, giving Crab Orchard the early 2-0 advantage. The Zacara attack got on track in the second period. Zacara team captain Lyndon Lea scored one goal from the field while Facundo Pieres made good on three penalty shots for goals. Aguerre added two more goals from the field for Crab Orchard and two chukkers into the match it was all even at 4-4.

Fourteen-year-old Matias Gonzalez gave Zacara its first lead of the game with a goal in the third chukker. Penalty goals from Aguerre and Magrini closed out the scoring in the first half, however, giving Crab Orchard the 6-5 edge. Magrini scored the first goal of the fourth chukker on a run from the opening throw-in to stretch the Crab Orchard lead to two goals, 7-5. Ensuing goals from Facundo Pieres (one on a 40-yard penalty shot) ended the period in a 7-7 tie.

A raging Crab Orchard attack had Zacara on their heels for much of the fifth chukker, with mistakes, penalties and technical fouls spelling the Zacara demise. Magrini converted three consecutive 30-goal penalty shots for goals, and Aguerre scored on a 60-yard Safety as Crab Orchard took a commanding 11-7 lead. Lea opened the final chukker with a goal from the field and Facundo Pieres converted a 60-yard penalty shot for a goal, cutting the Crab Orchard lead to a manageable two goals, 11-9, with over five minutes left to play. Just when the Zacara offense was beginning to gel, a costly foul sent Magrini to the penalty line once again where he converted a 40-yard shot for a goal, 12-9. Zacara continued to battle.

Facundo Pieres managed another goal from the field, but time was running out. A final goal from Pieres came with 25 seconds on the clock, ending the chukker and the game with a 12-11 Crab Orchard victory, and a spot in the tournament final on Sunday, January 27 against Audi. Matias Magrini and Mariano Aguerre each scored six goals for Crab Orchard. Two of the Aguerre goals came on penalty shots while Magrini scored five of his six goals on penalty shots. acara’s Facundo Pieres led all scoring on the day with eight goals, five goals on penalty shots. Lyndon Lea added two goals and Matias Gonzalez added a goal in a losing cause.