Wellington, FL – February 27, 2021 – After La Indiana claimed the first spot in the 2021 C.V. Whitney Cup®, three spots remained when the third round of play began on Saturday. Coca-Cola used a strong final two chukkers to capture the 13-10 victory over Santa Clara, while Park Place’s defense proved to be the difference in their 10-6 win against Cessna at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The first game of the day featured a back-and-forth match where each team held the lead after three chukkers, but it was Coca-Cola who finished the game on a 7-3 run to defeat Santa Clara. Shooting at goal 30 times, Coca-Cola produced consistent offense but shot just 27% with Santa Clara’s Felipe Vercellino keeping his team in the game with seven goals. Coca-Cola’s Nico Pieres responded with eight goals of his own, while the team effectively used Gillian Johnston in the front of the game to complete the 13-10 victory.
A quick pace was set in the opening chukker with eight combined shots as Santa Clara took the early 2-1 edge on two goals from Vercellino. The ball continued to move across the field with speed into the second chukker, but the field slanted in favor of Coca-Cola, who outshot Santa Clara 7-2, yet the score remained tied as Coca-Cola converted just one of the attempts on goal. Displaying a strategy of using Johnston in the #1 position, Coca-Cola produced seven shots for the second consecutive chukker, but inaccurate shooting held them from building a larger lead. Johnston converted two of her four attempts, leading to a slim 5-4 lead at halftime.
Taking advantage of Coca-Cola’s missed opportunities, Santa Clara swung the momentum back in their favor, retaking the lead in the fourth chukker on a Penalty 4 conversion from Vercellino and one field goal from Miguel Novillo Astrada. Relying on their 9-goaler Pieres, Coca-Cola continued their determined attack and increased their accuracy around goal to once again take the lead on the final play of the fifth chukker, Pieres’ fifth goal of the game. A quick response from Vercellino to start the sixth chukker tied the game for an incredible ninth time, leaving minutes remaining to determine the champion. Pieres and Julian de Lusarreta executed a two-man game for Coca-Cola throughout the sixth chukker that finally allowed them to take the lead for good, scoring four consecutive goals and capture the crucial 13-10 victory over Santa Clara.
Coca-Cola used a strong final two chukkers to capture the 13-10 victory over Santa Clara. ©Alex Pacheco
The second game of play in the C.V. Whitney Cup® displayed an organized Park Place defense that held Cessna to just two goals through the first four chukkers and kept them without a field goal until the sixth chukker. A combined team effort from Park Place saw all four players contribute offensively with Matt Coppola leading the way with a game-high four goals. Shooting just 17% from the field, Cessna could not match the balanced attack of Park Place in the 10-6 defeat.
Taking control from the opening chukker, Park Place built an early 3-0 lead behind the play of 10-goaler Ulloa, who added two field goals and an assist. Kept in their own half, Cessna struggled to generate an attack of their own, unable to maintain possession and get past the back line of Coppola and Ulloa. Coming forward from the #4 position, Coppola’s two goals in the second chukker extended his team’s lead to four as Cessna added two goals of their own on penalty conversions from Jared Zenni and Mariano Obregon. Ending the first half, Cessna failed to record a goal from the field and saw their deficit grow to five on Britos’ second goal of the game, a step behind Park Place throughout the first three chukkers.
Taking control from the opening chukker, Park Place built an early 3-0 lead. ©Alex Pacheco
Focused on mounting a comeback, Cessna began to find their footing in the second half, producing three shots at goal in the fourth chukker but were unable to convert any of their opportunities as they were held without a goal for the third time in four chukkers. Field goals were difficult to come by for both teams in the second half with defense stifling any attacks, resulting in zero combined field goals over both the fourth and fifth chukkers. Penalty conversions for Ulloa and Coppola pushed Park Place’s lead to six, leaving little chance of a Cessna comeback. Finally breaking their drought from the field, Cessna received field goals from Chip Campbell and Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario, but they couldn’t get any closer than four, falling 10-6.
Penalty conversions for Ulloa and Coppola pushed Park Place’s lead to six. ©Alex Pacheco
Polo matches at IPC are not open to the general public except for ticketed Sunday brunch. Online viewing is available with a subscription at globalpolo.com.