By Alex Webbe
Orchard Hill (Polito Pieres, Juan Chavanne, Facundo Pieres and Steve Van Andel) 10-goaler Facundo Pieres scored the first goal of the game against Audi (Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Magoo Laprida) on a 30-yard penalty shot, and never trailed as they recorded an 11-10 win in Sunday afternoon’s quarterfinal match of the 2017 United States Open Championship at the International Polo Club.
Following the opening penalty conversion from Facundo Pieres, Audi team captain Marc Ganzi scored from the field and tied the score at one goal apiece. Facundo Pieres gave the lead back to Orchard Hill, scoring the final goal of the chukker with just 36 seconds on the clock. After the first chukker it was Orchard Hill with the 2-1 lead.
Orchard Hill controlled a scrappy second period with Facundo Pieres scoring his third goal of the game at the 4:31 mark. With under a minute on the game clock, Facundo Pieres found himself on the scoring end of a pass from teammate Juan Chavanne. The second period ended with Orchard Hill on top of a 4-1 score.
Audi got on the scoreboard I the opening minute of the third chukker with Ganzi adding his second goal of the game and cutting the Orchard Hill lead down to two goals, 4-2. Facundo Pieres and Alejandro Novillo Astrada traded goals from the field, 5-3. Facundo Pieres converted a 60-yard penalty shot to close out the first half with Orchard Hill leading by three goals, 6-3.
Penalties were costly for Orchard Hill as play resumed in the second half. Nic Roldan converted on penalty shots from the 60 and the 40-yard marks while holding Orchard Hill to a single goal from Polito Pieres. After four periods of play, the Orchard Hill lead stood at two goals, 7-5.
Audi fought to get back into the game as the fifth period got underway. Magoo Laprida scored his first goal of the game with 4:20 left in the fifth, bringing Audi to within a goal of the lead, 7-6. Polito Pieres deftly stole the ball from Laprida just a minute later and carried it down the field for a goal, 8-6. Roldan scored the final goal of the chukker on a 40-yard penalty conversion that had Audi within a goal of the lead, 8-7, with one period remaining in regulation play.
Audi committed a foul in their own goalmouth in the closing seconds of the fifth period, with a Penalty 1 being assessed by the umpires and Orchard Hill being awarded a goal, 9-7, and a penalty shot from midfield to open the sixth chukker. With Facundo Pieres bringing the ball into play, he carried it about 60-yards up the field before unleashing a powerful shot from 90-yards out for a goal and a 10-7 Orchard Hill lead. Roldan kept the Audi hopes alive with a 60-yard penalty shot for a goal, 10-8. Polito Pieres scored on a pass from teammate Facundo Pieres to give Orchard Hill a three-goal lead, 11-8 at the 3:10 mark, but there was no quit in Audi. With just 37 seconds on the clock, Audi was awarded a goal on a Penalty 1, 11-9, but the game was all but over. By international rules, unless the score is tied, the game ends at the 20-second mark. Astrada struck the ball from midfield to get the game started again, and Roldan added to the drama, driving the ball through the uprights as time expired. The Audi comeback came up short as Orchard Hill celebrated the 11-10 win and a trip to Wednesday’s US Open semifinals.
Facundo Pieres led all scoring with seven goals (three on penalty conversions). Polito Pieres added three goals for the win and the team received one goal on a Penalty 1. Roldan scored three of his team-high five gals on penalty shots. Ganzi was credited with two goals while Laprida and Astrada each added a goal in the loss. Audi also received one goal on a Penalty 1.
Travieso 12, Coca-Cola 10
In the second US Open quarterfinal match of the day, newcomer Travieso (Teo Calle, Alfredo Capella, Sebastian Merlos and Mariano Gonzalez) upset Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Julio Arellano and Miguel Astrada) 12-10 after playing one another evenly through six chukkers.
Coca-Cola team captain Gillian Johnston scored the first goal of the game for the early lead. Travieso 7-goaler Mariano Gonzalez responded by converting a 30-yard penalty shot that leveled the score at 1-1.
The two teams traded goals in the second chukker with Julian de Lusarreta and Julio Arellano each scored for Coca-Cola while Sebastian Merlos and Gonzalez added single goals for Travieso (both Arellano and Gonzalez scored on penalty shots). The score remained tied, 3-3.
Coca-Cola got a little elbow room in the third chukker with three goals. Arellano added a goal from the field and Miguel Novillo Astrada scored twice. Travieso managed single goals from Merlos and Gonzalez to trail at halftime, 6-5.
Travieso upped the pressure on the Coca-Cola defense in the fourth, forcing errors that resulted in penalties and three more penalty goals from Gonzalez. Coca-Cola managed a single goal from Johnston and trailed, 8-7, at the end of the fourth chukker.
Alfredo Cappella scored on a 60-yard penalty shot for Travieso in the fifth for their only goal of the period. Coca-Cola answered back with a goal from the field from de Lusarreta. Travieso continued to lead, but Coca-Cola left the field trailing by a single goal, 9-8.
The scoring in the sixth and final chukker went back and forth for the first four goals. Single goals from Arellano and de Lusarreta (on a perfect set up in front of the goal by Arellano) and Merlos countering with a pair of goals of his own. A final goal from Cappella ended the suspense as time was running out on the 12-10 Travieso victory.
Gonzalez led the Travieso attack with six goals (fine on penalty conversions). Merlos added four goals and Cappella scored twice for the win. A balanced Coca-Cola attack had Arellano and de Lusarreta scoring three goals apiece. Johnston and Astrada added two goals apiece in the loss.
Cappella earned MVP honors for his efforts while Merlos’ Pipi was named Best Playing Pony.
The wins by Orchard Hill and Travieso cemented Wednesday’s US Open semifinals with Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Rodrigo Andrade, Gonzalito Pieres and Nico Pieres) facing Orchard Hill in an 11am game. At 5pm, Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Diego Cavanagh and Adolfo Cambiaso) will battle the upstart Travieso team.
The tournament final is set for Sunday, April 23rd at 3pm at the International Polo Club.