Apr 05, 2022 2:59 AM

Grand Champions Polo Club's Polito Pieres and La Elina's Juan Martin Obregon.
Grand Champions Polo Club's Gonzalito Pieres and La Elina's Juan Martin Obregon.

Story courtesy of International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Qualifying matches in the U.S. Open Polo Championship continued in an exhilarating day of polo at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida. Igniting the tripleheader action on Field 4, a five-goal contribution from Scone’s (David Paradice, Kristos "Keko" Magrini*, Poroto Cambiaso, Guillermo "Sapo" Caset) Cambiaso held off a late push from Santa Rita Polo Farm’s (sub. Finn Secunda, Hector Guerrero, Camilo "Jeta" Castagnola, Polito Pieres) Castagnola for the 12-11 win.

Originally slated for Sunday, Grand Champions Polo Club (Riley Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Juan Martin Zubia, Juan Bollini Sr.) and La Elina (Juan Martin Obregon, Geronimo Obregon, Facundo Obregon, Jared Zenni*) finally got underway at Isla Carroll West, where a combined fourteen-goal effort from Juan Martin, Geronimo and Facundo Obregon delivered La Elina the 15-10 win.

Capping off the tripleheader at Isla Carroll East, an uncharacteristically slow start from Park Place (Josh Hyde, Andrey Borodin, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa, Cody Ellis*) was ultimately overcome by GAUNTLET leading scorer Ulloa, as Park Place took the 14-9 victory over CK Shack (Henry Porter, Martin "Facha" Valent, Santiago Toccalino, Kris Kampsen) to remain undefeated in the U.S. Open Polo Championship.

Coming off a thrilling overtime win against La Elina, Scone’s Caset built off his five-goal performance, finding the posts on back-to-back goals from the field to open the scoring. Holding Santa Rita Polo Farm to just one goal from 10-goaler Pieres in the second chukker, a successful Penalty 4 from Cambiaso and additional Caset field goal gave Scone an early 4-1 advantage. Working in tandem throughout the field, Scone’s team success shone in the third, with goals from Caset, Magrini and Cambiaso taking a firm 8-3 lead into the break.

Emerging from the break Santa Rita Polo Farm’s Castagnola dominated the fourth chukker. Contributing two goals in the first half, Castagnola’s offensive breakout totalled four goals, include two consecutive conversions from the 30-yard line. Bringing Santa Rita Polo Farm back to within two goals, teammate Pieres found the posts for his second of the match to cut to the deficit down to just one.

Finally stopping the run of three straight Santa Rita Polo Farms goals, Magrini scored for the first time since the third chukker to restore the two-goal advantage. Filling in for Ganzi, Secunda made the most of his tournament debut, hitting the posts to keep Santa Rita Polo Farm in close contention. Despite a phenomenal day from Castagnola matching Cambiaso’s five goal total, Santa Rita’s ability to only convert 60% of their penalty attempts was overmatched by Cambiaso shooting 75%, including one final Penalty 4 to seal the 12-11 victory.

Geronimo, Facundo and Juan Martin Obregon combined for fourteen goals in La Elina's victory over Grand Champions Polo Club.
Geronimo, Facundo and Juan Martin Obregon combined for fourteen goals in La Elina's victory over Grand Champions Polo Club.

Utilizing their familial bonds to contribute to their on-field success, Facundo, Juan Martin and Geronimo Obregon kick-started La Elina’s scoring with five combined goals in the first two chukkers of play. Quick to get all La Elina teammates on the scoreboard, Zenni also drove to the goal, while Grand Champions Polo Club’s leader Pieres answered with three of his own to account for all of his teams early scoring. Holding a tight 5-3 advantage, Facundo and Juan Martin Obregon took control of the third chukker, combining for three goals, while Pieres contributed one lone Penalty 3 conversion to take an 8-4 deficit into halftime.

Outshooting Grand Champions Polo Club by ten in the first half, La Elina’s Facundo Obregon contributed two more goals in open play to open the second half, as Pieres continued to strike from the line with a Penalty 3. In a high scoring fifth chukker, seven total goals crossed the line, with Juan Martin and Facundo Obregon accounting for four, as a firing La Elina carried a comfortable 14-8 lead into the final chukker of play.

Only able to score in small increments, with their largest run coming off the mallet of Pieres in the fifth chukker, Ganzi tapped in one final goal for Grand Champions, but La Elina’s ability to score from the field and the firepower of the Obregon’s ultimately overtook their challengers 15-10.

Assembling on Isla Carroll East for the final matchup of the day, Park Place awarded one goal on handicap to CK Shack, where Porter quickly added to their advantage, driving down the field for a 2-0 lead. Working in synchronicity and playing to their team strengths, Ellis and Britos wasted no time responding for Park Place to tie the match at 2-all.

Trading goals from CK Shack’s Valent and Britos, CK Shack and Park Place remained knotted-up 3-3 after Park Place missed shots both from the field and 40-yard line. Making up for a prior missed Penalty 3, Park Place’s Ulloa hit his stride in the third chukker, accounting for three of Park Place’s goals before the break, as secondary scorer Britos found the posts twice to carry the 8-4 lead into the half.

Regrouping in the break, Porter finally created space in the field to drive the ball across the line for a struggling CK Shack, but Park Place immediately responded with Ulloa contributing back-to-back goals, while teammate Ellis tapped in his second goal of the match. Steping up their defense in the fifth chukker, CK Shack swarmed Park Place and managed to keep them off the scoreboard, as Porter made his third goal of the day in open play.

Leading CK Shack by five goals to open the final chukker of regulation, a strong three goal effort from Toccalino, including two penalty conversions was matched in the field by Ellis and Britos, as Park Place overcame their slow start for the resounding 14-9 victory.

*Kristos ‘Keko’ Magrini is an Active Team USPA Member, Cody Ellis and Jared Zenni are Team USPA alumni. 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.