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USPA GOLD CUP® SEMIFINAL PREVIEW

Mar 23, 2022 9:13 PM

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Park Place and Scone are set to meet again after last playing in the C.V. Whitney Cup® final at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.
Park Place and Scone are set to meet again after last playing in the C.V. Whitney Cup® final at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.

Story courtesy of International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The competition has intensified in the 2022 GAUNTLET OF POLO® at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida, with the second leg, the USPA Gold Cup® down to four teams entering Thursday’s semifinals.

Included are the C.V. Whitney Cup® champions Park Place (Josh Hyde, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa, Cody Ellis*), who have kept their GAUNTLET hopes alive, facing Scone (David Paradice, Kristos "Keko" Magrini*, Poroto Cambiaso, Adolfo Cambiaso), the team they beat in that final. In the other semifinal matchup, GAUNTLET scoring leader Facundo Pieres leads undefeated Pilot (Curtis Pilot, Mackenzie Weisz, Matias Torres Zavaleta) against newcomer Tamera (Alejandro Poma, Segundo Saravi, Christian "Magoo" Laprida, Diego Cavanagh), who won their playoff and quarterfinal matches to secure a place among the remaining four teams. With the U.S. Open Polo Championship® looming and the addition of seven more teams, all eyes turn to a must-see final week of play in the USPA Gold Cup®.

Pilot vs. Tamera

Pilot's Facundo Pieres leads the GAUNTLET with 8.0 goals per game.
Pilot's Facundo Pieres leads the GAUNTLET with 8.0 goals per game.

In the opening semifinal, Pilot emerges as a top contender for the title with an undefeated 3-0 record, winning by an average of 6.3 goals after convincing victories over Coca-Cola, Cessna and Dutta Corp/Show+. With an explosive offense led by 10-goaler Pieres, Pilot has been even better on the defensive side of the ball, conceding a tournament-best seven goals per game. Yet, the attention is often on their possession-based attack with Pieres averaging 8.0 goals per game.

The USPA Gold Cup® has seen the emergence of young Weisz, who has stepped into a secondary scoring role with 3.7 goals per game and working tirelessly alongside Zavaleta both off the ball and in their transition to defense. From the penalty line, no team has been more efficient than Pilot’s 83% accuracy, ensuring each opponent is penalized for each foul.

Diego Cavanagh leads Tamera into their semifinal match-up averaging 4.8 goals per game.
Diego Cavanagh leads Tamera into their semifinal match-up averaging 4.8 goals per game.

Outscoring Pilot is a tough feat, but Tamera may be up to the challenge as they match Pilot’s efficiency from the penalty line with the most efficient attack in open play. Shooting 57% from the field, Tamera has taken advantage of each opportunity around goal to produce the most field goals in the USPA Gold Cup®. 9-goaler Cavanagh has been exceptional for Tamera, leading the charge with 4.8 goals per game, but it has been a team effort with all four players scoring at least 1.5 goals per game.

Dealing with an injury before the tournament, Alejo Taranco has been replaced by Laprida, who has filled the role seamlessly and been a key factor in Tamera’s success. Suffering hard-fought defeats to Park Place and La Indiana, Tamera is the only team in the semifinals to not be undefeated, yet enter the match-up against Pilot riding the momentum of two consecutive victories to challenge for a place in Sunday’s final.

Park Place vs. Scone

Park Place's duo of Juan Britos and Hilario Ulloa combine for 8.1 field goals per game.
Park Place's duo of Juan Britos and Hilario Ulloa combine for 8.1 field goals per game.

A recurring storyline over the past two years, Park Place and Scone meet in an elimination game for the fifth consecutive tournament in the GAUNTLET, splitting the games 2-2. Each claiming two of the previous four titles, Park Place and Scone have matched each other step for step to produce some of the most memorable matches in recent memory at IPC.

As the lone GAUNTLET contender, Park Place will try to keep their winning streak alive with the best offense of the season, averaging an astounding 14.3 goals per game. The chemistry between Ulloa and Britos from multiple years playing together has been evident as the duo combines for 8.1 field goals per game as part of Park Place’s relentless attack. Ellis has made his case for a third component of Park Place’s attack, coming forward from the #4 position to average two goals and two assists per game. Park Place’s ability to match Scone from the penalty line is crucial to their success, as they did so in the C.V. Whitney Cup® final, using their proficiency from the field to claim the victory.

Scone's Poroto Cambiaso ranks third in the USPA Gold Cup® with 8.3 goals per game.
Scone's Poroto Cambiaso ranks third in the USPA Gold Cup® with 8.3 goals per game.

Scone looks to return to the winner’s circle and retain the USPA Gold Cup® title behind the father-son duo of Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso, with the latter taking his game to another level, averaging 8.3 goals per game in the tournament. The best team at drawing fouls, Scone produces more goals from the penalty line than any other team and find a consistent source of offense to compliment their proficient attack. Heralded 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso is Scone’s third highest scorer, behind son Poroto and Magrini, leaving opposing defenses with a difficult task in slowing all three facets of Scone’s attack.

Thursday’s semifinals are can’t miss polo at IPC, beginning with the first semifinal at 10:00am ET between Pilot and Tamera, and immediately followed by Park Place against Scone at 12:00pm ET.

*Kristos ‘Keko’ Magrini is an Active Team USPA Member and Cody Ellis is Team USPA 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.

All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.