Feb 21, 2022 3:59 PM

Nico Escobar provided his first two goals in the tournament to help lift Coca-Cola into the quarterfinals of the C.V. Whitney Cup® at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.
Nico Escobar scored his first two goals in the tournament to help lift Coca-Cola into the quarterfinals of the C.V. Whitney Cup® at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.

Story courtesy of International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Competing in a playoff for the last spot in the C.V. Whitney Cup® quarterfinals, Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Rufino Bensadon, Julian de Lusarreta, Nico Escobar*) and Cessna (Will Johnston, Raul "Gringo" Colombres, Miguel Novillo Astrada, Edward "Camp" Campbell) met on the Everglades field in Wellington, Florida, to keep their title hopes alive in the first leg of the GAUNTLET OF POLO®. Led by a 10-goal performance from Bensadon, Coca-Cola emerged victorious, capturing the 13-7 win and a quarterfinal matchup against Scone.

In a game that was ultimately decided on the penalty line, Coca-Cola’s Bensadon converted eight of his 10 attempts, while Cessna was held without a single penalty attempt. Despite the vast difference in penalty opportunities, Cessna only committed three more fouls, yet each one proved to be more costly as Coca-Cola stood strong defensively.

A position shift to bring Escobar forward into the #2 position paid off for Coca-Cola, contributing his first two goals of the tournament, while de Lusarreta made an impact defensively at the back. Never trailing, Coca-Cola effectively prevented Cessna from producing a consecutive stretch of goals to secure the 13-7 victory and advance to quarterfinal play.

Early foul trouble for Cessna led to two penalty conversions for Bensadon, a Penalty 2 and Penalty 4, that gave Coca-Cola a quick 2-0 advantage. Opportunities from the field were limited for both teams until play opened up in a fast-paced second chukker that produced five goals. After Escobar extended Coca-Cola’s lead to three, Cessa’s Colombres responded with back-to-back goals to give his team momentum entering the last chukker of the first half.

Charging forward, Cessna continued to create chances at goal, but inaccurate shooting kept Coca-Cola ahead by three due to the play of Escobar and Bensadon, who worked effectively to add a goal and an assist each to finish halftime ahead 7-4.

Turning their focus to the defensive end, Coca-Cola swarmed Cessna in the fourth chukker, leaving little time and space for runs to goal and preventing their opponents from finding the scoreboard. A Penalty 2 conversion for Bensadon proved to be the only offense in the chukker, but the game dramatically turned in favor of Coca-Cola in a decisive fifth chukker.

Unable to keep Coca-Cola off the penalty line, Cessna committed four fouls, leading to three more penalty goals for Bensadon, who also added a field goal to extend Coca-Cola’s lead to a nearly insurmountable seven goals with just one chukker remaining. Two goals from Campbell cut the deficit to five, but Coca-Cola ensured the victory with their strong play and the 10-goal performance from Bensadon to claim the last spot in the C.V. Whitney Cup® quarterfinals.

*Nico Escobar is an Active Team USPA Member. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.

All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.



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