Mar 12, 2022 4:11 PM

La Indiana's Stewart Armstrong embraces the bump from La Elina's Leo Mandelbaum in bracket play of the USPA Gold Cup® at International Polo Club Palm Beach, in Wellington, Florida. ©David Lominska
La Indiana's Stewart Armstrong keeps calm as La Elina's Leo Mandelbaum leans in for the bump in bracket play of the USPA Gold Cup® at International Polo Club Palm Beach, in Wellington, Florida. ©David Lominska

Story courtesy of International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Concluding bracket play in the USPA Gold Cup® at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), Friday’s doubleheader began on Field 4, as Park Place’s (Josh Hyde, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa, Cody Ellis*) efficient shooting and strong team play proved crucial as they managed to stave off a late resurgence from Tamera (Alejandro Poma, Segundo Saravi, Christian "Magoo" Laprida, Diego Cavanagh) to hold on for the 13-10 win.

Reconvening on Isla Carroll West for the second half of the doubleheader, La Indiana (Jeff Hall, Lucas "Luckitas" Criado Jr., Mariano Aguerre, Stewart Armstrong) and La Elina’s (Leo Mandelbaum, Ignacio "Nachi" Viana, Guillermo "Sapo" Caset, Jared Zenni) high powered back-and-forth play took the match down to the final chukker, with La Indiana’s Criado Jr. scoring twice in the final minutes of regulation to seize the 12-10 victory.

Awarded one goal on handicap, Tamera made the most of their early advantage with a quick goal from Cavanagh to assert an early 2-0 lead. Coming off an electric nine-goal performance in their previous win against La Elina, Park Place’s Ulloa once again led the charge, answering a strong Tamera team with three consecutive goals, including two conversions from the penalty line.

Cavanagh and Ulloa continued to exchange goals in the first half with Ulloa surpassing the fifty-goal milestone in the GAUNTLET to lead all players in scoring. Finding synergy with teammate Britos, Ulloa managed to keep Tamera defenders on their heels in open play, as Britos intercepted a pass to double up Tamera on the scoreboard and take a comfortable 6-3 lead into the break.

Emerging from the half with confidence in their established team chemistry, Park Place continued to move the ball down field with speed and efficiency to account for another three goals in the fourth chukker, with Ulloa converting another two penalties. Keeping his team within striking distance, Cavanagh remained the sole scorer for Tamera through the fourth chukker, adding two more from the field to cut the deficit to four goals.

Following a Penalty 1 drawn by Saravi, Tamara’s offense resurged in the fifth, kick-starting a run of four unanswered goals, with Laprida adding his name to the scoreboard, aiding the phenomenal team effort to pull Tamera back even with Park Place 9-all. Feeling the pressure of a propelling Tamera, Park Place turned back to their sharp shooting duo of Ulloa and Britos to re-gain the upper hand in the match. Adding another three goals to his total, thanks to a brilliant assist from Britos, Ulloa and his Park Place team raced back ahead with a 12-9 advantage. Despite Poma scoring his first goal of the tournament for Tamera, the comeback ultimately fell short where a final response from Ellis sealed the 13-10 victory to keep Park Place undefeated.

Following a spectacular overtime victory against Tamera in their first game of bracket play, La Indiana sought to continue their offensive success in the second match of the doubleheader against La Elina searching for their first victory. La Indiana began with one goal on handicap, but 10-goaler Caset immediately offset La Indiana’s advantage on a quick Penalty 2 conversion.

Scoring his first goal of the tournament, Zenni hit the ball through the posts with Caset quickly following with two more goals from the line. Trading fouls through the first half, with nine penalty goals combined between the two teams, La Elina sent La Indiana’s leading scorer Criado Jr. to the line for four successful conversions in the first half. Finally finding success in open play, Criado Jr. hit his first from the field, followed by another from Aguerre to give La Indiana a narrow 7-6 lead at the half.

Remaining within one goal of each other and matching offensive drives stride for stride, La Indiana and La Elina traded goals once more, with three coming off the mallet of Criado Jr. La Elina continued to provide a response after a Penalty 1 drawn by Viana, preceded two goals from Zenni and Caset to keep the contested match deadlocked 10-all. With the possibility of a second overtime for La Indiana imminent, Criado Jr. broke free on the field for back-to-back drives to end the day with a spectacular ten-goal effort, to cement a 12-10 win for La Indiana.

*Cody Ellis is a Team USPA Member alumnus. 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.