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COCA-COLA DEFEATS TONKAWA FOR FIRST VICTORY IN C.V. WHITNEY CUP®

Feb 22, 2021 3:29 PM

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Coca-Cola's Julian de Lusarreta finished with three goals in the victory over Tonkawa. ©Alex Pacheco
Coca-Cola's Julian de Lusarreta finished with three goals in the victory over Tonkawa. ©Alex Pacheco

Story courtesy of the International Polo Club Palm Beach

Bouncing back from an overtime loss in their opening game, Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Mackenzie Weisz, Nico Pieres, Julian de Lusarreta) captured their first victory in the 2021 C.V. Whitney Cup® on Saturday, February 20. Defeating Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Cody Ellis*, Guillermo ‘Sapo’ Caset, Francisco Elizalde) 14-11, Coca-Cola’s Pieres gave an impressive eight goal, two assist performance at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.

Facing a must-win game, Coca-Cola produced an efficient offensive showing, converting four of their five penalty attempts while also shooting above 50% from the field. The anticipated debut of the Caset, Elizalde duo for Tonkawa was thwarted by a disciplined Coca-Cola team that kept Tonkawa off the penalty line, conceding just one penalty attempt throughout the game. Left to open play, Tonkawa had their opportunities to match Coca-Cola but struggled to convert around goal with the same accuracy of their opponents who made a few tough-angle shots in the three-goal victory.

Coca-Cola's Gillian Johnston on the ball being pressured by Tonkawa's Francisco Elizalde and Jeff Hildebrand. ©David Lominska
Coca-Cola's Gillian Johnston on the ball being pressured by Tonkawa's Francisco Elizalde and Jeff Hildebrand. ©David Lominska

The opening minutes of the game featured Pieres as the stand-out player on the field, scoring three consecutive goals for Coca-Cola to finish the first chukker holding a 3-2 lead. The game displayed exceptional horsepower from both teams and Coca-Cola extended their lead further with contributions from Lusarreta and Weisz in the well-rounded attack. In a clean start to the game, Tonkawa’s only offense came from the field on Elizalde’s second goal, keeping them within reach as they trailed by two. One goal each from Johnston, Weisz and Pieres gave Coca-Cola the commanding 8-5 lead entering halftime.

The start of the second featured a revitalized Tonkawa led by Elizalde, who raced out early in the chukker to score three goals and add an assist in an impressive fourth chukker. Generating seven shots on goal in the chukker, Tonkawa quickly turned their three-goal deficit into a tie 9-all, leaving the outcome to be decided in the final two chukkers. In a high-scoring game, it was the defense in the fifth chukker from Coca-Cola that ultimately changed the game, holding Tonkawa off the scoreboard while scoring three unanswered goals to take control of the game. Converting a neckshot nearly on the end line, Lusarreta pushed Coca-Cola’s lead further to four, ending the hopes of a Tonkawa comeback. Late goals from Ellis and Caset were not enough for Tonkawa to challenge Coca-Cola and they conceded the game 14-11.

Gillian Johnston and Nico Pieres celebrate their victory over Tonkawa in the C.V. Whitney Cup®. ©Alex Pacheco
Gillian Johnston and Nico Pieres celebrate their victory over Tonkawa in the C.V. Whitney Cup®. ©Alex Pacheco

The C.V. Whitney Cup® continues on Wednesday, February 24, with Cessna taking on Scone at 11:00am ET and Pilot challenging Tonkawa at 3:00pm ET. All games of the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO® will be livestreamed exclusively on Global Polo TV.

*Cody Ellis is a Graduating 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.

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