Mar 26, 2022 2:53 PM
Story courtesy of International Polo Club Palm Beach.
For the first time since the inaugural 2019 GAUNTLET OF POLO®, the lone GAUNTLET contender has a chance to claim the second trophy as all eyes turn to the USPA Gold Cup® final on Sunday, March 27, at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida.
Exiting in the semifinals last year, Park Place (Josh Hyde, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa, Cody Ellis*) found redemption against Scone and has taken the next step in 2022, finding themselves in position to continue their run through the GAUNTLET OF POLO®. On the other side of Sunday’s final is Pilot (Curtis Pilot, Mackenzie Weisz, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Facundo Pieres), the only team familiar with what it takes to successfully claim the GAUNTLET. After an exhilarating day of semifinals, spectators for the final on U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1 will certainly be treated to high-powered, offensive polo from the top two field scoring teams in the tournament.
After repeating as C.V. Whitney Cup® champions, Park Place are currently on a seven-game win streak, suffering just one loss on the season. That loss happened to come against their upcoming opponent Pilot in a memorable overtime game, but Park Place showcased their resilience by defeating Pilot in their second encounter during the C.V. Whitney Cup® semifinals. Setting their sights on capturing the second leg of the GAUNTLET OF POLO®, Park Place are led by GAUNTLET scoring leader Ulloa, who has displayed every bit of his 10-goal handicap to average 7.8 goals per game. However, the play of Ulloa has been aided by the play of Britos, who ranks second to Ulloa in field goals per game in the GAUNTLET to provide an elite duo for Park Place in open play.
Despite much of the focus being on Park Place’s 10 and 9-goalers, Ellis has emerged as a player to watch, instrumental in Park Place’s hard-fought victory against Scone in the USPA Gold Cup® semifinals. Collecting an astounding five assists in the victory, Ellis moved to the top of the assist leaderboard in the tournament, ahead of notable 10-goalers Pieres and Adolfo Cambiaso. A well-rounded team that can break through for a run of goals at any moment in the game, Park Place is one step closer to continuing their status as the GAUNTLET contender.
Returning to their first final in the GAUNTLET since their historic 2019 run was completed with the U.S. Open Polo Championship® title, Pilot enters the final with an undefeated 4-0 record, winning by an average margin of 6.0 goals. Pilot has excelled in the USPA Gold Cup® by playing a clean, fast style of polo where they have committed the fewest number of fouls, and received the fewest number of fouls.
The lightning, quick pace has allowed Pieres to showcase his incredible skill, averaging 7.3 goals and 2.5 assists to directly contribute on nearly 10 goals per game. Pilot have also elevated their play in the second tournament, with Weisz moving into a starring role, increasing his goal output from 2.0 in the C.V. Whitney Cup® to 4.3 entering Sunday’s final. The 5-goaler has driven forward in the game, while Zavaleta has been an anchor for Pilot’s tournament best defense, protecting against counterattacks.
The top two teams in producing offense from the field, Park Place and Pilot are set for a fast-paced, dramatic showdown for the prestigious USPA Gold Cup® title at 3:00pm ET on Sunday, March 27, which 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.
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More