ERG Defeats Audi in Butler Handicap Semifinals

Gonzalito Pieres goes for the big hit to try and generate some offense. Photos – Alex Pacheco.

WELLINGTON, FL – March 21, 2013 — Audi, leading after the opening chukker, fell behind at the half and was unable to regain its composure, dropping a 12-7 decision to ERG in the Butler Handicap semifinals on Thursday at Everglades Polo Club.

It was Audi’s third consecutive loss after opening the USPA Piaget Gold Cup with impressive wins over Zorzal and C. V. Whitney champion Alegria.

In its three losses to Valiente, Zacara and ERG, Audi has been outscored, 38-24.

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi will now have a week to regroup and fine tune for the 109th Maserati U.S. Open which opens next week. Audi opens up against Coca-Cola on Thursday at 2 p.m.

“We hope to put this behind us and think about the U.S. Open,” said Audi 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres. “If we think about this game we’re going to get in trouble.

Marc Ganzi fights for possession of the ball with teammate Gonzalito Pieres following him up
Marc Ganzi fights for possession of the ball with teammate Gonzalito Pieres following him up

“This one we have to forget, see how we do in the Open draw and play good polo. We can play good polo. We need to get it right. We are a good team; we have good players. It’s just not working at the moment, but we know we can do it.”

Pieres’ younger brother Nico led Audi scoring with five goals including three on penalty shots. Gonzalito Pieres added two goals. ERG’s Tincho Merlos had a game-high seven goals.

Audi took an early 2-1 lead on two Nico Pieres goals. The game remained close in the second chukker with ERG taking a 4-3 lead.

In the third chukker, Audi squandered away scoring opportunities and let up on defense allowing ERG to outscore them, 5-1, for a 9-4 halftime lead.

Audi came within three goals in the fifth chukker (10-7) but could not overcome its bad passing, unforced errors and miscommunication.

The game was delayed with 2:43 left in the final chukker when some of the field’s sprinklers came on. Play resumed ten minutes later.

Jeff Hall tries to retain possession of the ball, fighting off two ERG defenders
Jeff Hall tries to retain possession of the ball, fighting off two ERG defenders

“I think the last two games we had a few good chukkers,” Gonzalito Pieres said. “Today we did not score goals; our passes were really bad. At the moment, everything fell apart.”

Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget, led by team captain Melissa Ganzi and 10-goalers Miguel Astrada and Sapo Caset, fully recovered from the flu that sidelined him for a game, plays Orchard Hill, in the other Butler Handicap semifinal on Friday at 10 a.m. on Field 4 at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The winners advance to the championship final on Sunday at noon.

Last year Piaget, then rated 23 goals with Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Astrada, Nic Roldan and Rodrigo Andrade, won the Butler Handicap with a 14-10 victory over Las Monjitas.

Roldan, a Cardinal Newman alum, was named Most Valuable Player after scoring eight goals. Roldan’s gray mare, Dona, was named Best Playing Pony.

Nico Pieres goes for the neck shot toward goal
Nico Pieres goes for the neck shot toward goal

Also on Friday, the Grand Champions Cup will be held at 4 p.m. at IPC. The game features advanced level youth players, ages 16-21. Among players competing is Juancito Bollini, 16, a Wellington High senior, who filled in for Audi team captain Marc Ganzi, sidelined with a broken thumb, for three 26-goal Audi games.


Friday, March 22: Semifinal, Piaget vs. Orchard Hill, 10 a.m.; Grand Champions Cup (youth tournament), 4 p.m., IPC.

Sunday, March 24: Butler Handicap Final, noon; USPA Piaget Gold Cup Final, 3 p.m.

Thursday, March 28: U.S. Open begins, schedule, pairings to be announced after draw.


March 21-24: Butler Handicap

March 28 – April 21: 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship


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

Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)

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