Wellington, FL – February 25, 2019 – The first final of the GAUNTLET OF POLO™ saw Pilot (Curtis Pilot, Matias Gonzalez, Gonzalito Pieres, and Facundo Pieres) dominate Las Monjitas (Camilo Bautista, Francisco Elizalde, Hilario Ulloa, Matt Coppola, and Santi Toccalino) 13-6 to capture the 2019 C.V. Whitney Cup and the $125,000 prize on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The convincing victory for Pilot saw Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres play the two-man game to perfection, with numerous runs and passing plays to set up scoring opportunities. The variety of attacks provided difficulties for Las Monjitas throughout the second half as they were unable to contain the multiple facets of Pilot’s attack. After inaccurate 2 for 7 shooting in the first half, Pilot converted all seven shots in the second half, while Las Monjitas struggled to find the goal, converting just 1 of their first 12 shot attempts. Along with perfect shooting from the penalty line, Pilot cruised to the commanding victory and with capturing the first leg of the GAUNTLET OF POLO™, remain the lone team capable of claiming the $1,000,000 prize.
In the opening stages of the game, Pilot displayed their strategy utilizing Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres as the duo scored a goal each in the first chukker. Making his first appearance in the C.V. Whitney Cup, Curtis Pilot returned to the field producing a strong showing to contribute in Pilot’s attack. Along with their accurate passing, Pilot displayed strong horsepower including Facundo Pieres’ second goal of the game as he muscled his way past Francisco Elizade to give Pilot the 4-2 lead in the second chukker. Despite converting just 1 of their 9 shots in the opening half, Las Monjitas remained within reach thanks to two penalty goals from Elizalde that brought the score to 5-3 in favor of Pilot at halftime.
With Pilot controlling possession throughout the opening half, the game changed dramatically in the fourth chukker as the Las Monjitas defence struggled to contain the relentless attack of Pilot. In an impressive 5-0 chukker, Pilot separated themselves from Las Monjitas, opening up a seven-goal lead. Two goals and two assists in the chukker for both Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres provided a two-pronged attack that left Las Monjitas searching for answers defensively. The frustration boiled over for Hilario Ulloa who received his second yellow in the chukker, and then rode onto the field before the two-minute penalty was complete, resulting in a red card that forced him out of the game. Santiago Toccalino came on in place of the 10-goaler, but Pilot had built a large lead with the result all but confirmed with two chukkers to go. Facundo Pieres’ 7th and 8th goals of the game in the fifth chukker extended Pilot’s lead to eight and sealed the victory, as the combination of Pilot’s lethal attack and Las Monjitas’ inaccuracy from the field allowed Pilot to run away with the game.
Most Valuable Player was awarded to Pilot’s Matias Gonzalez, who finished with two goals in the game, while Best Playing Pony went to Facundo Pieres’ “Open Pennsylvania”. The second leg of the GAUNTLET OF POLO™, the USPA Gold Cup®, begins on Thursday, February 28th at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.