By Sharon Robb

Flexjet rallied for four goals in the sixth chukker to win its first game of the USPA Gold Cup Thursday at International Polo Club Palm Beach. Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, A, Nico Pieres, 8, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Rodrigo Andrade, 9), tied 5-5 with Audi (Grant Ganzi, 2, Mike Azzaro, 6, Polito Pieres, 10, Nic Roldan, 8) after five chukkers, bounced back for a thrilling 9-6 victory in the battle of Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro teams. Nico Pieres : “This win is good for us. We need to win our next one to go through and if we lose, we still can have another chance in a shootout.”

In biting cold and winds gusting 10 to 15 miles per hour, the score was tied three times before. Nico Pieres opened the sixth chukker with a great goal run to give Flexjet its first lead of the game at 6-5. Flexjet never let up with another nice goal run by Andrade and second goal by Nico Pieres and won the throw-in each time. “We were saving everything for the last chukker,” Nico Pieres said with a smile. “We started playing more or less a bit better in the second half.”

10-goaler Polito Pieres, making his IPC winter season debut after arriving from Dubai on Wednesday, scored his fourth and final goal to cut the lead to two, 8-6. “I knew Polito was going to play because he arrived yesterday and told us last night he was going to play,” Nico Pieres said. “We are used to playing against family. Sometimes I play against Facu and Gonza, we are used to it.” Melissa Ganzi took possession of the ball in the final two minutes and worked the clock while going to goal to ice the win with her second score of the game between three Audi defenders.

“I am very happy with our team,” Ganzi said. “It’s always hard to play against your son. It was a really difficult day to play with the wind and cold. It was a nice win but now we have a really tough game on Sunday.” Flexjet improved to 1-1 to remain alive in bracket play in the six-team tournament. Audi dropped to 0-2.

“It was an important win, we are back again in the tournament at 1-1,” Gonzalito Pieres said. “This put us in a position that winning Sunday will put us in second place or if we lose we have a penalty shootout for fourth place. “We are trying to play good together as a team. We know the potential that we have and we have to prove it in the right games. I was missing a lot of goals in the beginning but luckily Nico, Rodrigo and Melissa had some good goals in the end. It’s how we have to play. When we have our chance, we have to take it and when things are not going well we need to be patient because we can win it in the end.” The game featured three members, brothers Gonzalito and Nico Pieres and cousin Polito Pieres, of the Ellerstina team that finished runner-up to longtime rival La Dolfina in the 124th Argentine Open last year.

USPA Polo Network is live streaming the IPC winter season, including the entire USPA Gold Cup tournament, with content from Wellington-based ChukkerTV.

www.gcpolo.com