WELLINGTON, FL – February 3, 2013 – Making its stadium debut as defending Ylvisaker Cup champions and wearing pink jerseys in honor of breast cancer awareness, Piaget rallied in the second half to defeat Goose Creek, 10-8, Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
With the win, Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget (1-1) remains in contention to defend its title in the 14-team tournament.
Behind 10-goaler Miguel Astrada, Piaget outscored Goose Creek, 6-2, in the final two chukkers to rally from a three-goal deficit early in the third chukker.
Astrada scored a game-high nine goals including six in the last two chukkers, and was named Most Valuable Player. His horse, Chaleco was named Best Playing Pony.
Astrada is second leading scorer in the tournament with 16 goals behind 10-goaler Facundo Pieres of Zacara with 21.
“We changed it around in the second half and decided to control the ball more and that made the difference,” Astrada said. “Juan Bollini did a very good job of marking Luis Escobar and blocking him on the knock-ins and we were able to keep the ball in play.
“This is a very important win,” Astrada said. “We still have a chance if we win our next game. This put us back in the tournament which makes us very happy. We needed this for our confidence to get the team going.”
For the second game in five days, the game featured two women player-patrons, Melissa Ganzi of Piaget and Maureen Brennan of Goose Creek.
“Maureen is a good player and it’s fun that all the female players got the chance to play each other in this tournament,” Ganzi said. “I think it’s great for women’s polo.
“This was a really exciting game and important win for us, we’re still in it,” said Ganzi, the team captain.
After nearly pulling off a second-half rally against Coca-Cola before losing, 15-11, earlier in the week, Piaget had a team meeting to review game films and come up with a game plan.
“Miguel spent a lot of time with us Saturday in a team meeting going over the video,” Ganzi said. “There is no one better than Miguel to break things down and explain. It was really helpful for Miguel to break down the plays frame-by-frame in the video review.
“We had Joey Casey, Juan Badiola and Sapo Caset, a whole team behind us giving us pointers. Even (husband) Marc came up with a good idea at halftime.”
Against Goose Creek, Piaget didn’t lead (7-6) until late in the fifth chukker when Astrada stole the ball and scored in a crowd of defenders with 2:17 left. Astrada scored three more goals to put the game out of reach.
“It was really good because Miguel is an excellent listener,” Ganzi said. “I told him he had to score four more goals and look what he did, he scored four more goals. We stayed focused at halftime and came up with a good game plan and it helped us make it through the game.”
Piaget’s 18-year-old Joaquin Panelo, making his IPC debut this season, played more aggressively and his cousin, veteran 5-goaler Juan Bollini was outstanding on defense in the second half closing in on Luis Escobar during several scoring attempts.
Panelo scored Piaget’s first goal in the opening chukker.
“Goose Creek was killing us on their knock-ins so in the second half we changed our knock-ins and throw-ins and that’s what made the difference,” Piaget coach Joey Casey said. “The second half we put Juan on Escobar when they knocked in because he was floating in the back picking up too much garbage.
“This is big, any win is a big win,” Casey said. “We were behind until the fifth chukker and then put it all together. It was a very good win. At least we were able to change our game plan for the better.”
Ganzi and her teammates were outfitted by 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 held at IPC’s 7th Chukker to help raise money for breast cancer research.
In the first two games of Sunday’s tripleheader, Zacara defeated Crab Orchard, 11-8, behind Facundo Pieres’ nine goals. Coca-Cola, led by Cardinal Newman alum Julio Arellano’s seven goals, routed Port Mayaca, 14-8.
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
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