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LA INDIANA OVERTIME VICTORY CAPS OFF SECOND DAY OF C.V. WHITNEY CUP®

Feb 19, 2021 6:28 PM

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Santa Clara's Will Johnston under pressure from Cessna's Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario. ©Alex Pacheco
Santa Clara's Will Johnston under pressure from Cessna's Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario. ©Alex Pacheco

Story courtesy of the International Polo Club Palm Beach

The second day of play in the 2021 C.V. Whitney Cup® began with Santa Clara (Will Johnston, Felipe Vercellino, Miguel Novillo Astrada, Luis Escobar) capitalizing on a strong final chukker to narrowly defeat Cessna (Chip Campbell, Ezequiel “Gallego” Martinez Ferrario, Mariano Obregon Jr., Jared Zenni*) 12-10 on Thursday, February 18. In the second game of the day La Indiana (Leon Schwencke, Jeff Hall, Polito Pieres, Nico Escobar*) and Park Place (Jack Whitman*, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa, Matt Coppola*) battled into overtime with Hall striking the golden goal to secure the 15-14 victory.

A competitive first game on the Isla Carroll East field saw all eight players contribute to the scoreboard, producing an entertaining game that came down to the final minutes. Both teams converted nine shots from the field with the difference ultimately coming from the penalty line where Santa Clara’s Vercellino finished a perfect three for three. After trailing throughout the game, Cessna made a three-goal stretch which carried them into the sixth chukker, but Santa Clara responded with the final three goals of the game to emerge victorious.

Santa Clara's Miguel Novillo Astrada finished with two goals in their victory over Cessna. ©David Lominska
Santa Clara's Miguel Novillo Astrada finished with two goals in their victory over Cessna. ©David Lominska

From the opening throw-in, the ball moved fast across the field with passing attacks prominent for both Santa Clara and Cessna. Converting all three attempts in the first chukker, Santa Clara held the 3-2 lead thanks to two goals from Escobar. Joining Cessna for the first time, Zenni added his second goal of the game as Cessna looked to level the playing field, but Vercellino was able to capitalize on a Penalty 4 while adding a goal from the field to keep Santa Clara ahead by one. Cessna continued to pressure Santa Clara, scoring two goals for the third consecutive chukker, but could not slow the offense of Santa Clara who inched further ahead behind the balanced team offense. One goal each from Vercellino, Escobar and Astrada gave Santa Clara the 8-6 lead at halftime.

The fast-paced game carried into the second half with Johnston scoring his first goal of the game as both teams continued to trade goals, leaving just a two-goal difference on the scoreboard. Finding some momentum defensively, Cessna kept Santa Clara off the scoreboard in the fifth chukker, beginning a stretch of three unanswered goals, two from Ferrario. The third goal off the mallet of Zenni ignited Cessna as they grabbed the 10-9 lead in the sixth chukker, setting their sights on the victory. An immediate response from Astrada swung the momentum back in Santa Clara’s favor with the final minutes belonging to the team in red. Vercellino’s third penalty conversion was quickly followed by Johnston’s second goal of the game to secure the 12-10 victory.

La Indiana's Nico Escobar reaching for the ball against Park Place. ©David Lominska
La Indiana's Nico Escobar reaching for the ball. ©David Lominska

The second overtime game of the C.V. Whitney Cup® resulted from a high-scoring contest between La Indiana and Park Place with the latter fighting back in the second half to challenge the recent 2020 USPA Gold Cup® champions. Despite the 29 goals on the scoreboard, La Indiana and Park Place combined for just 27 shots while shooting above 60% in a game often seen in the semifinals or final of any other tournament. The two 10-goalers in Pieres and Ulloa led their respective teams offensively, but in a game decided by the narrowest of margins, La Indiana’s handicap advantage helped lead them to victory.

La Indiana began with a one-goal lead on the scoreboard with Schwencke substituting for Michael Bickford and quickly doubled it to two on the opening throw-in goal from Escobar. A dominant opening chukker saw La Indiana continue their strong play from the previous Sunday, receiving one goal each from Escobar, Pieres and Schwencke to put Park Place in a 4-1 deficit. Storming back with a four-goal chukker of their own, Britos and Ulloa executed excellent plays for Park Place, scoring two goals each to bring their team within one. The rapid pace slowed at the end of the first half as La Indiana and Park Place were held to one field goal each, leaving La Indiana holding the narrow 7-6 lead.

La Indiana's Jeff Hall scored the game winning goal in overtime against Park Place. ©David Lominska
La Indiana's Jeff Hall scored the game winning goal in overtime against Park Place. ©David Lominska

After halftime, both teams came out firing to produce seven goals in seven minutes without a missed shot from the field or penalty line. Pieres led the way for La Indiana with three goals in the fourth chukker, while Park Place’s Ulloa responded with two of his own, but the scoring outburst enabled La Indiana to inch further ahead. However it was short lived as Park Place produced their first run of the game, holding La Indiana off the scoreboard while receiving two penalties in front of goal to take the 12-11 lead into the sixth chukker. A standout player in the final chukker, Escobar stole the ball from Britos to tie the game 12-all. A penalty 4 conversion for Pieres put La Indiana back in the lead but an impressive goal from distance by Ulloa sent the game into overtime.

Starting with a throw-in just yards in front of Park Place’s goal, La Indiana won the throw in to keep Park Place on defense. Jumping on a loose ball in front of goal, Hall seized his opportunity to score the golden goal, sealing the 15-14 victory for La Indiana.

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

*Jack Whitman and Nico Escobar are Active Team USPA Members. Jared Zenni and Matt Coppola are Graduating Team USPA Members. 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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