Succumbing to Pilot in their first game of the tournament, La Indiana was granted another opportunity to rectify their one loss in the Iglehart Cup Final on Thursday, March 15, at the International Polo Club in Wellington, Florida. Despite a strong comeback in the sixth, La Indiana was unable to stop Pilot’s offensive drives and they ultimately took the trophy 11-9.
Utilizing the strong defensive skills of their teammates to create breaks, Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres opened the first with two commanding goal shots from the field. Winning the next throw-in and galloping straight to goal, La Indiana countered with two impressive goals of their own.
Excellent blocking from Timmy Dutta kept Facundo Pieres well out of La Indiana’s reach throughout the first half, as he thundered across the field relatively unchallenged, easily picking up two field goals by the end of the second chukker to double up the score 6-3 in favor of Pilot.
“It was a pleasure to play with Curtis as a team,” Dutta said graciously. “He and I go back and forth, one of us to one guy one to the ball, it’s amazing. We knew that after playing La Indiana before they were going to come back even stronger in the finals, so we had to prepare, but I think we did well today.” Benefiting from penalty conversions, La Indiana slowly began to close the deficit with strong plays by Facundo Obregon and Toro Ruiz, ending the half trailing by one 6-7.
Making the only goal with a shot approximately 40-yards from the posts, Ruiz played a fearless fourth chukker. Diverted temporarily in the fourth, Pilot’s prowess accelerated them into the lead in the fifth with three consecutive goals by the Pieres brothers. Once in possession of the ball, Facundo Pieres surged forward, dodging the mallets of defenders as he rode out in front free and clear. Starting off the sixth 10-7 with Pilot leading, La Indiana would have to elevate their game in an attempt to overtake the lead.
Aggressive plays by both sides led to two pivotal penalty conversions for La Indiana, providing the motivation they needed for a final push. The clock ran down as La Indiana searched desperately for the equalizer. In the final moments however, Facundo Pieres would seal Pilot’s victory with a goal from the penalty line, his eighth of the game, bringing the final score 11-9.
His first time competing in a high-goal final, Curtis Pilot enjoyed every moment of the experience. “It was a fantastic win, we played La Indiana which I think is one of the best teams to play because they are very aggressive,” Pilot said. “We have great horses and a great organization with Gonzalo de la Fuente.”
Responsible for four out of nine total goals for La Indiana, Toro Ruiz was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to So Easy, a 12-year-old mare ridden by Gonzalito Pieres in the second and sixth chukkers. “She’s a mare that has played in the [Argentine] Open with me many times, she played in the last one too, and I decided to bring her because I knew she was going to help me a lot—and it’s happening,” Gonzalito Pieres said with a laugh. “She is bred from an American mare called Easy Go, that Facundo [Pieres] bought from Charlie Armstrong, and a stallion named Picaro.”
The USPA Polo Network will livestream both the USPA Gold Cup® and the Carlos Gracida Cup on Saturday, March 17, beginning at 10:30am ET from the International Polo Club Palm Beach.