WELLINGTON, FL – January 31, 2013 – Defending champion Piaget staged a furious second half rally but fell short and lost its Ylvisaker Cup opener to Coca-Cola, 15-11, on a brisk Thursday morning at Jan Pamela South Field.
After leading 2-0 early in the first chukker, Piaget was outscored 7-2 in the second and third chukkers and trailed 10-4 at halftime.
A second half rally, led by 10-goaler Argentine Miguel Novilla Astrada, cut Coca-Cola’s lead to four in the fifth chukker (12-8) and with 3:50 left in the game (14-10), but Piaget ran out of time to do any further damage.
Astrada scored a game-high seven goals including four penalty shots. Eighteen-year-old Joaquin Panelo added three goals. Piaget, debuting slick new game jerseys, opened the game with a 1-0 lead because of its 19-goal handicap for the 20-goal tournament.
“We played better in the second half,” Astrada said. “Juan Bollini stayed more back and I think that helped us. They were very quick in the first half. They were hitting and running and we were looking. The second half we got more organized and that made us better.
“It was like playing two different games,” Astrada said. “It’s been a long time, too, since we played our last game so I think that was also a factor; it was like starting all over again. There are not going to be any easy games in this tournament. Making the penalty shots were important to keep the score close.”
Coca-Cola, winner of the Herbie Pennell Cup to open the season, was coming off a disappointing showing in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup and was out for redemption.
“The first half we were flat-footed,” Piaget Coach Joey Casey said. “We weren’t going to a man. They were hitting back shots and no one was turning. In the second half, we went to the man and got quicker turning. That was the difference.
“They were quicker than us; they anticipated quicker,” Casey said. “It took us three chukkers to get our stuff together to start going better in the second half. We just started out flat.”
Coca-Cola was led by a balanced scoring attack. Cardinal Newman alum Julio Arellano had five goals, all on penalty shots; Sugar Erskine and Tommy Collingwood each had four goals. Johnston added two goals.
The game pitted two women player-patrons, Melissa Ganzi of Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget and Gillian Johnston of Coca-Cola.
“I think we played better as a team in the second half,” Ganzi said. “They are a good strong team. Gillian played really well. It was a good game for her. We didn’t quit; we kept fighting back.”
In the other two Thursday games, Zacara, led by 12 goals from 10-goaler Facundo Pieres, defeated Goose Creek, 16-9, and Crab Orchard topped Port Mayaca, 13-11.
Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi will play its Ylvisaker Cup opener Friday against Lucchese at 1 p.m. at International Polo Club Palm Beach on Field 3.
As defending champion, Piaget will play Sunday’s marquis stadium game at 3 p.m. against Goose Creek.
Ganzi and her teammates will be 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, also Sunday, from 1-3 p.m. at IPC’s 7th Chukker to help raise funds 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
Friday, February 1: Lucchese vs. Audi, 1 p.m.
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