Remy Muller and Nico Pieres. Photos: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Wellington, Florida – February 15, 2015 – Lucchese broke Orchard Hill’s undefeated record in the Ylvisaker Cup quarterfinals Sunday on Engel & Völkers field at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Lucchese won 10-7, and its number three player, Nico Pieres, went home with awards for MVP and best-playing pony (“Footsie”). Lucchese advances to the semifinals Wednesday, playing Valiente at 3 p.m.
If anyone could describe the game in a nutshell, it was Lucchese patron John Muse. He walked into the tent afterward, smiling and shaking his head as he said, “What a war!”
That elicited laughter and head nodding from Magoo Laprida and Pieres, a pair of 8-goal powerhouses who propelled Lucchese into a commanding and sustained lead that was dotted with a couple of ties. Lucchese established its dominance in the opening moments of the game, when Pieres slammed in a 60-yard penalty shot to score. In a foreshadowing of things to come, his brother, Facundo Pieres, mirrored his exact move, making the next goal on the same yardage.
There was a lot of Pieres-on-Pieres play throughout the match, as is often the case when the fraternal dynamos play on opposing teams. Each accounted for several 100-yard-plus shots, not surprising for a 10-goaler (Facundo) and an 8-goaler (Nico) whose last names are both Pieres.
Facundo Pieres, superb at faking out his defenders, baited them every so often with some cat-and-mouse play. Just when they were lulled into a sense of security, he’d snap back into full-on forward motion and scamper down the field to score. Nico Pieres made his own slick moves, scoring on an unbelievably gymnastic play in the second chukker. He reached back, took the ball on the bounce and pounded it into goal from five-and-a-half feet off the ground.
Laprida also put in some fancy footwork, charging across the centerline with the ball. Steve Van Andel swiped it for all of a millisecond, only to have Laprida snatch it back. Laprida gave a swarm of defenders the slip as he swatted the ball down the field to score. He was hustled again and again by Orchard Hill, determined to make him work for every goal he made.
Then it was a flashback with one Pieres goal after another (insert whichever first name you like). The brothers mixed it up big time, each scoring in five chukkers. In the top of the second half, Nico Pieres worked in tandem with Andres Weisz, who backhanded a shot to him. Fending off two or three Orchard Hill players at any given time, Nico Pieres kept a bouncing ball going as he tap-tapped it in the air. After a whistle, he took a 60-yard penalty shot. Seeing that the ball wasn’t going to go in, Weisz stepped in and angled it over to Laprida, who in turn passed it back to Nico Pieres. He scored, bringing the tally to 8-5 for Lucchese.
An undaunted Orchard Hill kept knocking on the door. In the fifth chukker, Facundo Pieres converted from 30 yards, tightening the gap to 8-6. Then Nico Pieres pulled out in front at warp speed, all the while being chased down by his brother. Facundo Pieres couldn’t stop him, though. Nico Pieres scored, giving Lucchese a three-point lead. Two more goals in the final chukker (one each by Facundo Pieres and Weisz) brought the final score to 10-7 for Lucchese.
“The four of us played a good game. We had to,” said Laprida, noting Orchard Hill’s unblemished record. “And they have Facundo, which is always something (to deal with).”
Nico Pieres had a 100 percent scoring record in the game, shooting 70 percent above the tournament average. “We played a really good game and we controlled them, and the four of us had a win,” he said. He called it a tough game, noting that Orchard Hill won the last tournament (the Joe Barry Cup) and was undefeated since the start of the season. “For us it was like (playing) a final. Luckily we made it.”
Cambiaso Leads Valiente to 13-7 Win over Casablanca
In a solid 13-7 victory, Valiente bested Casablanca at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Sunday’s quarterfinals of the Ylvisaker Cup. Both teams came to the game with a 2-1 tournament record.
In his much-anticipated season debut at IPC, Adolfo Cambiaso – the number one player in the world – was the high scorer for Valiente, to no one’s surprise. He contributed five of the team’s 13 goals and helped Santi Torres make four. In a tango on horseback, the pair controlled the field for the majority of the game. Mapping out a strategy, they engaged in private powwows on the field at critical moments when the clock was stopped. The result was a calculated series of chess-like moves that kept Casablanca guessing from one play to the next.
Sunday was Cambiaso’s first game since winning the Argentine Polo Open Championship in Palermo two months ago. He said he asked Sapo Caset to let him play today to get in the rhythm before the 26-goal tournaments at IPC start in less than two weeks.
Casablanca started the game with two automatic points to compensate for its 18-goal handicap in the 20-goal tournament. The match began slowly, with neither team scoring in the first chukker.
Although he slammed in four goals in the next two chukkers, Cambiaso was his own hardest critic. “I was really slow in the first three chukkers,” he said. “Then I improved, and the team improved. In the last chukker I improved more – but I can do better.”
Cambiaso had been slated to play earlier in the tournament but said he subbed out because he had a physical issue. There was no evidence of that to be seen in his play Sunday. He stormed into the second chukker, making two consecutive goals to tie the score 3-all. Grant Ganzi swooped in during the final seconds of the chukker to break the tie, bringing Valiente to a one-point lead. In a multiple scramble, Tommy Beresford repeatedly kept Mark Tomlinson away from Cambiaso, who intercepted the ball. Cambiaso sent it on to Beresford, who made the only goal of the third chukker, retying the game 4-4.
The second half opened with a series of shots on goal by both teams, all going wide. Torres tiptoed around defender Juan Bollini to bring Valiente into a one-point lead. Then Torres and Cambiaso resumed their dance, resulting in a slapshot from 20 yards out by Torres, who ran it in to score.
That’s when Valiente shifted into high gear, clenching the lead between its teeth and never letting go. Valiente stopped Casablanca in its tracks in the fourth, keeping it scoreless throughout the chukker. Cambiaso galloped in to steal the ball at midfield and run it through the goalposts, scoring with just 55 seconds left in the fourth.
The fifth chukker opened and ended with a three-point spread. It started 7-4 for Valiente and ended 9-6, owing to one goal each by Beresford and Peke Gonzales (who scored again in the final chukker). Tomlinson also scored in the sixth, but the Cambiaso-Torres machine contributed three more goals, ending the game 13-7 for Valiente.
Fifteen-year-old Gonzales played an amazing game for a player of any age. It was his first game with Cambiaso, an event he called very exciting, adding, “But it was also a lot of pressure.”
Gonzales played such a determined and powerful game that announcer, Gus Whitelaw referred to it as “lights-out polo.”
Torres called Cambiaso a good teammate, adding that he “gives you a lot of confidence. I love playing with him or Sapo. They’re both great guys.”
Valiente advances to the semifinals Wednesday, playing Lucchese at 3 p.m.
Villa del Lago Victorious over Enigma in Highest Scoring Game of the Ylvisaker Cup
Team Enigma battled back from an 11-5 fourth chukker deficit to tie it up in the sixth to 15-all. This was Enigma’s fourth sudden death overtime period in the Ylvisaker Cup tournament, but this time the other team emerged as the victors in a dramatic overtime run to goal from Villa del Lago’s deadly duo of Polito Pieres and Julian de Lusarreta. The overtime goal by de Lusarreta made the final score 16-15 in favor of Villa del Lago.
“We got lucky on that last play,” said de Lusarreta about his game winning cut shot to goal that clinched the win.
The 6-goaler, de Lusarreta backed up the flashy ball handler Pieres, as they had done successfully throughout the game, and when Enigma’s Jeff Hall made the defensive play on Pieres, de Lusarreta followed and shot to goal with authority to send Villa del Lago into the Ylvisaker semifinals.
Although the game went through swings in scoring during the second half, the first half was fairly even between the two teams. In the first chukker, the play was a bit choppy, as the players were testing each other. Villa Del Lago got on the board first with a penalty two conversion. Jerome Wirth of Enigma retaliated by following up on a Carlucho Arellano steal. The first chukker ended two all.
In the second, the play started to open up. The Enigma players were swarming Villa Del Lago superstar Pieres, but his support crew of Augustine Obregon and de Lusaretta did a fine job backing him up and took full advantage of the coverage difference to score three goals between them compared to Enigma’s sole field goal in the chukker. Pieres fought through the Enigma defense in the third chukker for two more goals, but Hall and Arellano countered for Enigma.
The fourth chukker was Polito, Polito, Polito. The 9 goal player is rated 10 goals in Argentina, and he showed that form in the fourth chukker. When the dust settled, Villa del Lago was up 11 to 5 on four unanswered goals in the fourth chukker, two by Pieres, another by de Lusarreta, and another from Obregon.
The Enigma players had seen this movie before in other games this tournament, and true to script, they did not back down from a big goal deficit. They came out fighting in the fifth chukker. Hall tallied two field goals, Matias MacDonough added one and Arellano two more, compared to only two goals for Villa del Lago. Momentum was swinging in favor of Enigma heading into the sixth chukker, as they had closed to within three goals of Villa del Lago.
The two teams combined for an offensive blizzard of seven goals in seven and a half minutes of the sixth chukker. First Pieres made a penalty two. Enigma then got a penalty one, but Pieres won the ensuing lineup and ran 290 yards to put Villa del Lago up 15-11 with four minutes and change remaining, a seemingly insurmountable lead. But once again, the Enigma players gritted their teeth and hustled some more. Arellano in particular, was essential to the comeback, scoring two penalty 3 conversions, sending a perfect pass to Jerome Wirth for a Wirth goal, and scoring a key one-time shot to goal to tie the score 15-15 with just seconds left in the chukker.
Would Enigma get their third overtime victory of the tournament? Not if Pieres had his way. Pieres immediately won the lineup to start the overtime chukker and ran towards goal at a high rate of speed with Hall in hot pursuit. Hall made the defensive hook, but de Lusarreta hit the unguarded ball with precision straight through the goal and gave Villa del Lago the victory, 16-15.
“We were playing good in the first half and the fourth chukker, but then I made some bad decisions in the fifth and sixth chukkers and Polito could not get the ball like before, said de Lusarreta about the dramatic swings in scoring. “Between the sixth chukker and overtime, the only thing we said was, ‘Let’s win, no matter what, no matter how, forget the fifth and sixth chukkers and play like the first half.'”
Villa del Lago progresses on to the semifinals on Wednesday February 25 at International Polo Club against Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola over Audi 14-8
Coca-Cola defeated Audi 14-8 in the quarterfinals of the Ylvisaker Cup to advance to the semi-finals on Wednesday.
The match started with several goal attempts by both teams that went wide. Ultimately Julio Arellano converted for Coca-Cola to put the first point on the board. Sugar Erskine followed up with a long pass to Mason Wroe, giving Coca-Cola a two-point lead. Nic Roldan scored on a penalty conversion to make the score 2-1 at the end of the first chukker.
Arellano converted again at the top of the second chukker. Freddie Mannix worked hard, dodging defenders to score and bring Audi within one point of Coca-Cola. Wroe made a strong defensive play, blocking the defenders so Arellano could make an open backshot to Erskine, who was on the run toward goal. He scored, making the tally 4-2. Wroe followed up with a stellar cutshot from over 100 yards out to score.
Coca-Cola patrona Gillian Johnston sent a strong pass to Erskine for another goal, putting the team firmly in the lead 6-2. Lucas Lalor took off on a breakaway to tap the ball in for a goal in the last few seconds of the chukker. Erskine made good use of Coca-Cola’s signature passing game. He sent a pass to Wroe, who was in motion and scored 7-3. It was power polo at its best, as both teams fought to take control of the game. Lalor shot a pass to Marc Ganzi, who sent it down to Roldan for a goal, ending the half 7-4.
Arellano continued his strong penalty conversion string in the second half, starting out with a conversion for Coca-Cola. Mannix took advantage of a broken play, turning defense into offense to drive in a goal for Audi. Roldan hit a pass to Mannix, who tapped in another goal to close the gap to 8-6. Roldan took off on a breakaway to bring Audi within one goal at the end of the fourth chukker.
Arellano took the ball in from the knock-in, sending a long pass up the field to Erskine, who was in motion anticipating the pass. Erskine left the ball behind and was backed up by Arellano for the goal. Erskine followed up with another goal, making the score 10-7 in favor of Coca-Cola. Erskine continued his blazing speed as he took off on a run. He shot the ball to Johnston, who made an open backshot to Wroe, who tapped it in for a goal.
Roldan picked up the ball from Lalor, driving it in and making the score 11-8. Arellano made an impressive cutshot to score, followed up immediately by another goal from Erskine, ending the fifth chukker 13-8. After two technicals were called, Roldan was benched with a minute left in regulation play. Arellano converted a penalty, giving Coca-Cola a 14-8 victory.
Erskine credited Audi for its vigorous play throughout the match. “That was a rough game, and we knew it would be,” he said. “We got away a little bit at the beginning, but they came right back.”
Wroe said his team’s work on the field exemplified the Coca-Cola style of play. “Overall the game went our way,” he said. “Our motto is ‘simple and disciplined.’ Everybody does their job, their one-fourth part, and it makes it easier.”
Coca-Cola came into Sunday’s game undefeated 3-0. It will play Villa del Lago in the semifinals Wednesday at 1 p.m.
International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts
What: Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport.
Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games.
Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion, designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.
Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 1-4, 2015
Joe Barry Memorial Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 4-25, 2015
Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal
Jan. 28 – February 22, 2015
Iglehart Cup – 20 Goal
Feb. 28 – March 8, 2015
USPA C. V. Whitney Cup – 26 Goal
Feb. 15 – March 1, 2015
Piaget USPA Gold Cup® – 26 Goal
March 4-22, 2015
111th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship® – 26 Goal
March 25 – April 19, 2015
From the Turnpike:
Take the Lake Worth Exit
Head west on FL-802 W/Lake Worth Rd toward Hooks Rd
Continue to follow Lake Worth Rd (3.9 miles)
Turn right onto 120th Ave S
Destination will be ahead on the left (0.4 miles)
Exit Forest Hill Blvd, head West
Make Left turn onto 441/St Rd 7
Make Right turn onto Lake Worth Rd
Make Right turn onto 120th Ave S
Destination on Left
3667 120th Ave S, Wellington, FL 33414
International Polo Club Palm Beach: 561-204-5687
Mallet Grille: 561-282-5340
Spa & Fitness Center: 561-282-5288
Tennis Pro Shop: 561-795-7228
Polo Operations Office: 561-282-5283
Polo Hotline: 561-282-5290
Hampton Inn & Suites – (561) 472-9696 – Approximately 2 miles
Hampton Inn – (561) 472-5980 – Approximately 4 miles
Four Seasons Resort – (561) 582-2800 – Approximately 9 miles
The Breakers – (561) 655-6611 – Approximately 9 miles
Kimpton Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – (561) 540-6440 – Approximately 9 miles
John Wash – President of Club Operations