Piaget Plays Sunday Stadium Game
Down by four goals in the second chukker, Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi cut its deficit to two goals (7-5) midway through the fourth chukker on Nico Pieres’ cut shot goal with 3:41 remaining.
Audi dug itself out of another four-goal deficit at the end of the fifth chukker with three goals from Nic Roldan to cut Lucchese’s lead to one goal but Audi squandered away four scoring opportunities in the final minutes of the game.
“We had four chances to tie the game in the last four-and-a-half minutes; we just weren’t able to put it through,” Audi player-patron Marc Ganzi said. “We seem to play better from behind. We didn’t feel like we were beaten on the field. We felt like we weren’t executing. We kept saying, we think we can win the game, we think we can win the game. We believed we could.”
Roldan finished with a game-high seven goals including four on penalty shots. Nico Pieres added two. Lucchese’s Sebastian Merlos and substitute player Kris Kampsen each had four goals.
The slick, wet field posed problems for both teams, particularly Audi which was forced to play less aggressive and more tentative.
The physical, penalty-marred opening chukker lasted thirty minutes because of several close calls. Roldan was off his horse twice in the first chukker. Marc Ganzi nearly went down after a close call.
“The officiating has been incredibly inconsistent,” Ganzi said. “It changes how you play the game because you don’t know if you can go into a play or you can’t go into a play. You don’t know whether they are going to call a foul or not call a foul. You are sort of hanging on at the edge trying to figure out if you can make a play or not make a play.
“It makes you play very tentative polo,” Ganzi continued. “When one team plays a certain style of polo that’s on the edge, you have to be looking over your shoulder on every play. That makes it very frustrating.”
The game marked the Ylvisaker Cup debut of Audi’s Mariano Gracida, a 3-goaler filling in for his older brother Carlitos, who broke his foot in Sunday’s final of the Joe Barry Memorial Cup. Gracida, 20, who turned pro five years ago, is the son of former 10-goaler and Hall of Famer Carlos Gracida.
It took Gracida the first three chukkers to make the transition and feel comfortable on the field with his new, lightning-quick teammates.
“He had a rough couple first chukkers,” Ganzi said. “I think once he got used to the speed he played very well in the second half. I think we will get better. It’s always tough to make a change in mid-season but we are going to get better with him every game.”
In Friday’s other game, Lechuza Caracas with a lineup of Victor Vargas, Adam Snow, Polito Pieres and Carlos Avendano defeated Faraway, 8-6. Vargas scored his team’s final two goals.
Audi resumes Ylvisaker Cup play next Thursday against Faraway at 1 p.m.
On Saturday, two games are scheduled. ERG plays Villa del Lago on Field 3 at 1 p.m. and Valiente plays Orchard Hill at 3 p.m. on Isla Carroll East Field.
Grand Champions Polo Club’s other pro team, Piaget, defending Ylvisaker Cup champion, will play Sunday’s marquis stadium game at 3 p.m. against Goose Creek. For the second time in five days, the game will feature two women player-patrons, Melissa Ganzi of Piaget and Maureen Brennan of Goose Creek.
Ganzi and her teammates will be outfitted by Wellington-based Polo Gear in pink jerseys to help raise awareness for the Susan G. Komen Foundation South Florida and help support Polo In Pink, a pink champagne party, also on Sunday, from 1-3 p.m. at IPC’s 7th Chukker to
help raise money for breast cancer research. A $50 minimum donation is required. There are also limited lawn seats available for the 3 p.m. game for $30.
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
Sunday, February 3: Goose Creek vs. Piaget, 3 p.m.
Thursday, February 7: Faraway vs. Audi, 1 p.m.
Saturday, February 9: Crab Orchard vs. Piaget, 10 a.m.
Sunday, February 10: Lechuza Caracas vs. Audi, noon
Thursday, February 14: Subsidiary Quarterfinals
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: Haas Cup Semifinals subsidiary, 1 and 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