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TEAMS SET FOR EAST COAST OPEN FINAL REMATCH

Sep 07, 2016 6:55 PM

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Marcos Garcia del Rio of Goose Creek going for a nearside with Audi's Nic Roldan on his hip
Marcos Garcia del Rio of Goose Creek going for a nearside with Audi's Nic Roldan on his hip

Goose Creek and defending champions Audi took to the field in the first game of semifinal play for the 2016 East Coast Open at Greenwich Polo Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. A choppy first chukker resulted in penalty conversion scores for both teams. Audi’s Nic Roldan and Sebastian Merlos converted two penalties, followed by a penalty 2 from Mariano Gonzalez for Goose Creek. Audi repeated their two goal start in the second chukker with a field goal from Sebastian Merlos and Marc Ganzi in the first two minutes of play. Goose Creek finished off the chukker with two consecutive goals by Tomas Garcia del Rio bringing the score 4-3, Goose Creek trailing by one. Despite numerous shots on goal by Goose Creek, Audi dominated in the third chukker with three unanswered goals, widening the gap 7-3 at the half.

Nic Roldan of Audi makes a strong shot to goal
Nic Roldan of Audi makes a strong shot to goal

Goose Creek came out strong in the second half with two rapid-fire goals from Marcos Garcia del Rio to bring them within two goals. Audi reasserted their lead as Roldan scored a field goal and Merlos a penalty 2 conversion. A missed penalty shot by Gonzalez, followed by a Goose Creek mishit on a penalty 5, left the team trailing by four. A low-scoring fifth chukker, one goal added to the board for each team, sustained Audi’s lead going into the final chukker 10-6. With one minute left to play in the sixth chukker, Nic Roldan scored the final goal of the game on a penalty two-conversion to cement Audi’s victory 11-6 over Goose Creek.

"It was a battle from the first to the sixth chukker. The score wasn't a reflection of the competition. The plan we went on the field with worked. The horses played great and are ready to go for Sunday," said Audi's Nic Roldan.

Airstream's Agustin Bottaro makes the hook on White Birch's Hilario Ulloa
Airstream's Agustin Bottaro makes the hook on White Birch's Hilario Ulloa

In the second semifinal matchup, Airstream faced off against White Birch for the last spot in the final of the 2016 East Coast Open. The 20-goal White Birch team was awarded two goals in handicap at the onset of the game as a result of Airstream’s 22-goal handicap; rising star Agustin Bottaro was raised from 1 to 2 goals following Airstream’s last game of bracket play.

The first half of the game showcased open polo with big hitting and wide field passes from each team. With less than a minute into play, Hilario Ulloa scored the first goal of the game for White Birch on a penalty 2 conversion. The two teams traded goals for the rest of the first chukker, including a great goal from Bottaro to end the first 4-3 in favor of White Birch. The remaining two goals of the first half displayed even playing by both teams. Two goals from White Birch’s Ulloa and Mariano Aguerre in the second chukker, combined with two goals for Airstream by Guillermo Aguero and Kris Kampsen in the third, left Airstream trailing by one (6-5) at the end of the first half.

The crowd watches on from the Greenwich Polo Club grandstand as Airstream's Kris Kampsen goes for a neckshot as White Birch's Santino Magrini attempts a hook
The crowd watches on from the Greenwich Polo Club grandstand as Airstream's Kris Kampsen goes for a neckshot -- White Birch's Santino Magrini attempts a hook

The second half exhibited aggressive and physical play from both teams. A penalty 2 conversion by Airstream’s Kampsen tied the game 6-all in the first minutes of the second half. Aguero followed up with a goal from the field and Airstream took the lead for the first time in the game 7-6 over White Birch. White Birch suffered a blow in the second when Santino Magrini was forced to sit out for two minutes resulting from his second yellow card for dangerous riding. Despite this setback, White Birch dominated in the fifth chukker with three unanswered goals; two by Ulloa and one from Peter Brant. Two decisive opportunities on open goal penalties from Airstream in the fourth and fifth chukkers, both missed, kept them trailing by two goals entering the sixth and final chukker. A goal from Aguerre followed by a penalty 2 conversion from Kampsen upheld the two goal gap. White Birch ran the clock towards the end of the game defeating Airstream with a final score 10-8, securing their spot in a rematch East Coast Open Final against Audi.

Link to full schedule and rosters here

All East Coast Open games will be livestreamed on ChukkerTV. The East Coast Open Final is on September 11 at 3:00pm ET. NBC Sports Network will rebroadcast the East Coast Open Finals on September 17 at 3:00pm ET.

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