Wellington, Fla. – April 15, 2018 – Sunday Polo at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) saw four teams playing to see who would advance to the semi-final rounds of the U.S. Open Polo Championship and who would advance to the Hall of Fame Cup. At the end of two exciting games, it was decided that FlexJet and US Polo Assn. will join the semi-finalist line up, in addition to Valiente and Daily Racing Form.
The first game of the day took place on Sunday morning between FlexJet (Melissa Ganzi A, Nico Pieres 8, Gonzalito Pieres 9, Rodrigo Andrade 9) and Audi (Marc Ganzi 2, Nic Roldan 8, Polito Pieres 10, Mike Azzaro 6). At the end of the six chukker game plus overtime, it was Flexjet who claimed one of the remaining semi-final spots. From the start of the game, both FlexJet and Audi came to win with equal play on both sides. At the end of the first chukker, the teams were tied 1-1. Play continued evenly between teams until Roldan demonstrated excellent defensive maneuvers that halted FlexJet from scoring during the third chukker. At the end of the first half Audi was in the lead 6-3.
FlexJet came out refreshed and strong after halftime with Gonzalito Pieres scoring five impressive goals during the fourth chukker to put his team in the lead by one goal. Feeding off of his scoring streak, Andrade, Ganzi, and Nico Pieres all put in at least one goal during the fifth chukker to take the lead 12-8. However, Audi showed the game wasn’t over yet in the sixth chukker by tying up the game after an exciting goal from Polito Pieres with only one second left in the game. The game went into overtime with Nico Pieres scoring the winning goal for FlexJet off of a penalty conversion.
The IPC feature match of the day took place on Field 1 and saw Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz 1, Juan Britos 7, Magoo Laprida 8, Diego Cavanagh 9) and US Polo Assn. (Grant Ganzi 2, Juancito Bollini 4, Juan Martin Nero 10, Alejandro Novillo Astrada 8) competing for the final semi-final spot. The first half of the game saw both teams fighting equally to claim victory, with strategic plays being made by all players. At the end of the third chukker, US Polo Assn. held onto a slight 5-3 lead on Colorado. Following the crowd favorite divot stomp during halftime, players returned to the field ready to continue battling for the win.
US Polo Assn. held onto to their lead during the fourth chukker and the start of the fifth, but play was temporarily halted due to an injury for Ganzi. After assessing injuries, Ganzi returned to the field and play continued. At the end of the fifth chukker Cavanagh tied up the game 6-6.
With the sixth chukker beginning in a tie, it was anyone’s game until Colorado scored to take the lead for the first time during the whole game. US Polo Assn. quickly responded with another goal made by Ganzi, who showed no sign of slowing down despite his injury earlier in the game. With a minute remaining in the game, US Polo Assn.’s Nero was faced with the opportunity to win the game for his team off of a penalty conversion, but the ball landed wide of the goal. However, with 15 seconds left in the game before an overtime would be declared, Nero received a second opportunity to score through a penalty shot, this time succeeding to win the game for US Polo Assn. 9-8.
The U.S. Open Polo Championship will continue at IPC on Wednesday, April 18th with US Polo Assn., Valiente, Daily Racing Form, and Flexjet competing in the semi-final rounds. Colorado and Audi will face-off in the Hall of Fame Cup, which will take place on Sunday, April 22nd.