WELLINGTON, FL – February 10, 2013 – Audi continued its defensive domination Sunday in the Ylvisaker Cup at windswept International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Led by Cardinal Newman alum Nic Roldan and Nico Pieres, Audi advanced into Friday’s quarterfinals with a thrilling 8-7 victory over previously unbeaten Lechuza Caracas.
Both Grand Champions Polo Club-based teams, Audi and defending champion Piaget remain in contention in the 14-team tournament.
Audi and Piaget are 2-1. Lechuza Caracas is 2-1 and also advanced.
On Monday at 10 a.m., Audi, Lechuza Caracas and Lucchese will play a shootout on IPC’s Field One to determine the bracket winner. The draw will follow to determine quarterfinal pairings.
In last year’s Ylvisaker Cup final, Piaget knocked off Audi in the final and Piaget player-padron Melissa Ganzi had household bragging rights for a year.
Audi continued its ball-hawking and man defense to shut down Lechuza Caracas.
“We have had a very defensive mentality,” said Audi player-padron Marc Ganzi. “The games that we played well, like the last game and this game, we gave up very few goals. In the entire second half today, we gave up one goal from the field. That means we played great defense.”
A lineup switch of moving Ganzi to back and Mariano Gracida to the one position turned out to be the key for Audi controlling the midfield. Audi shut out Lechuza Caracas in the fourth and sixth chukkers.
“When we play defense like that and shut the team out, we are going to win games,” Ganzi said. “The defense is so good and what’s so great is all of us are playing defense. We’re all comfortable switching and playing the position that’s asked of us to win the game.”
With the scored tied 7-7 at the start of the sixth chukker, Roldan whacked a lofted penalty shot with 4:09 which turned out to be the winning goal.
“I really wanted to make that goal,” Roldan said. “It was a key goal, it was the winning goal.
“Both teams played great,” Roldan said. “We missed a lot of goals in the beginning but we just kept pushing. We didn’t get down. We kept the positivity and aggression and played close to our men.
“We all have so much confidence in each other and we all feel good,” Roldan said. “Our horses are getting better and better. We feel great and we’re ready to go.”
Both teams were aggressive and on the attack during the entire fast-paced game.
Audi led 6-5 at the half after Nico Pieres lofted a long shot from the field at the 2:37 mark.
“I think we played quite good,” Nico Pieres said. “Lechuza is a really good team and were amazing. We knew we had to play a game like this to beat this team and win. We knew if we win we were in the quarterfinals. For sure we are a contender for the Cup.”
After a scoreless fourth chukker, Audi moved ahead 7-5 on another Roldan penalty shot but two goals by Polito Pieres tied the game at 7 to end the fifth chukker.
“We were all running; it was a great game,” Ganzi said. “We predicted this. The game could have gone either way. It’s excellent we’re in the quarterfinals.
“Every game we have with Lechuza is a good game,” Ganzi said. “They play clean, open polo. There were not many fouls today. It’s two really well-mounted teams. All eight players play hard, run and hit the ball. It’s just fun. This is what polo is about.”
Roldan finished with five goals including three on penalty shots. Nico Pieres added three goals. Polito Pieres had five goals for Lechuza Caracas.
“The tournament is very good this year; the level is better,” said Lechuza Caracas player-padron Victor Vargas. “This is the first year I have seen this kind of polo in the 20-goal league. It’s hard to win. Every team is difficult to play against. Every team has high goal players.
“Audi played well,” Vargas said. “It was a very good game, a very open game. We lose the game, but we enjoyed it. They played better and deserved to win.”
In other Sunday games, ERG defeated Orchard Hill, 14-10; Villa del Lago edged Valiente, 11-10, and Lucchese topped Faraway, 10-8.
The prestigious tournament is named after visionary business leader and lifelong polo enthusiast Bill Ylvisaker.
Ylvisaker, a former captain of the Yale polo team, founded the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. He founded the Polo Training Foundation to teach and develop young polo players. He was a 7-goal rated player and won three U.S. Opens, two Coronation Cups against England and Australia, Gold Cup and four national 20-goal championships. He was chairman of the U.S. Polo Association (1970-75) and inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 1994. Ylvisaker died February 6, 2010 at age 85.
YLVISAKER CUP AUDI/PIAGET SCHEDULE
Monday, February 11: Audi, Lechuza Caracas, Lucchese Shootout For Seeding, 10 a.m.
Thursday, February 14: George Haas Quarterfinal, Port Mayaca vs. Orchard Hill, 3 p.m.
Friday, February 15: Four quarterfinals games, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday, February 16: Outback 40-Goal Challenge (with three players from Audi/Piaget: Miguel Astrada, Sapo Caset and Gonzalito Pieres), 3 p.m.
Sunday, February 17: CV Whitney 26-goal games, TBA
Wednesday, February 20: Ylvisaker Semifinals, 1 and 3 p.m.
Thursday, February 21: George Haas Cup Semifinals, Crab Orchard vs. Port Mayaca-Orchard Hill winner, 1; Goose Creek vs. Faraway, 3 p.m.
Sunday, February 24: Haas Cup final, noon; Ylvisaker Cup Final, 3 p.m.
AUDI/PIAGET TOURNAMENT LINEUP
Jan. 31 – Feb. 24, Ylvisaker Cup
Feb. 20 – March 3, Iglehart Cup
Feb. 20 – March 3, CV Whitney Cup
March 5 – March 24, USPA Piaget Gold Cup
March 26 – April 21, 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.
INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Piaget. Everyone is welcome to watch polo during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League Tournament.
Sharon Robb for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International