Wellington, FL – March 14, 2021 – The battle between the top two offenses in the Gauntlet of Polo® kicked off the second round of the USPA Gold Cup® today, producing one of the most exciting games of the season thus far with La Indiana withstanding the late pressure from Scone to capture the 13-11 victory. The feature game of the week on the Home of the U.S. Polo Assn – Field 1 resulted in a win for PIlot after securing a 12-10 victory against Coca-Cola at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
A hard-fought opening game between La Indiana and Scone displayed an elite level of polo on both sides of the ball with scoring opportunities needing to be earned. A six-goal second chukker for La Indiana gave them an advantage that they held throughout most of the game, but the penalty shooting of Peke Gonzalez and Adolfo Cambiaso, converting five of their final six opportunities, brought Scone even during the late stages of the game. A resilient defense from La Indiana, including a crucial final minute backhand from Michael Bickford, along with three goals from Jeff Hall in the final two chukkers gave La Indiana the 13-11 victory to remain undefeated.
The opening chukker set the tone of the game as the two teams were evenly matched and the only goal came from Poroto Cambiaso to give Scone the narrow one-goal lead. Missing two penalty attempts, both from 60 yards, Scone was unable to extend their lead further as La Indiana came alive in a dominant second chukker. A complete team effort resulted in La Indiana scoring six consecutive goals on two penalty conversions and perfect 4 for 4 shooting from the field, three of which were assisted on by Pieres to stun Scone and leave them trailing 6-2, their biggest deficit at any point in the Gauntlet. Holding La Indiana to just one goal in the third chukker, Scone fought back to cut the deficit to two after penalty conversions from Adolfo Cambiaso and Gonzalez, leaving the score at 7-5 at halftime.
Nico Escobar and Michael Bickford celebrate La Indiana‘s victory. ©Alex Pacheco
A defensive start to the second half displayed limited chances for both teams as Polito Pieres and Poroto Cambiaso traded goals, leaving La Indiana ahead by two. Play opened up in a fast-paced fifth chukker that produced a combined seven goals, but it was Scone who chipped away at their deficit thanks to three goals from Adolfo Cambiaso, pulling within one entering the final chukker. In the opening play of the sixth chukker, Poroto Cambiaso finally brought Scone back into a tie at 11-11, leaving the final six minutes to determine the winner. After determined runs from both teams, it was La Indiana’s defense that stood tall, thwarting multiple Scone runs with a Penalty 3 conversion from Pieres placing La Indiana back in the lead. Peke Gonzalez made one final run for Scone, but Bickford hit a critical backhand in front of his own goal to secure the victory as Hall scored with time expiring to complete the 13-11 victory.
The feature game of the week pitted Coca-Cola against a Pilot team without Facundo Pieres and searching for their first win of the tournament. A clean game held Pilot without a penalty attempt the entire game, but in the most accurate performance of the season, Pilot converted 86% of their shots from the field, receiving five goals each from Lucas James and Gonzalito Pieres to defeat Coca-Cola. Overcoming their early struggles from the field, Coca-Cola challenged Pilot late but ultimately trailed from the opening goal in the 12-10 defeat.
Pilot bested Coca-Cola by two goals to win 12-10 during Sunday‘s feature game. ©Alex Pacheco
After scoring 10 goals in his last game, Gonzalito Pieres picked up where he left off scoring a goal in the first chukker, however he added to his performance by using the pass to assist on goals from James and Matias Gonzalez as part of a 3-0 first chukker in favor of Pilot. Pieres’ second goal completed the four-goal run for Pilot to begin the game as Gillian Johnston finally ended the run, leaving the score at 4-1. With just four fouls in the first half, the difference on the scoreboard came down to accuracy from the field as Pilot finished with a 7-4 advantage, converting seven of their nine shots.
Trailing throughout, Coca-Cola set their sights on closing the gap at the start of the second half, beginning to translate their opportunities from the field into goals. Johnston, Weisz and de Lusarreta scored as part of a three-goal fourth chukker to dramatically change the game and pull Coca-Cola within one. Despite recording the first penalty goal of the game, Cavanagh’s Coca-Cola team saw their deficit grow back to three as the duo of James and Pieres continued to take advantage of each run to goal for Pilot. James scored back-to-back goals to begin the sixth chukker, securing the 12-10 victory for Pilot and the honor of Most Valuable Player for his five-goal performance. Best Playing Pony was awarded to Open So Easy, played and owned by Gonzalito Pieres.
The winning Pilot team, pictured with Martin S. Cregg, Chairman of Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, during the awards ceremony. ©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.