By Alex Webbe
There will be no defense of its 2008 Pacific Coast Open Championship for Audi (1-2) as they go down in flames to previously winless Valiente (1-2) in a 17-10 contest Sunday morning at the Santa Barbara Polo Club.
â€œWe didnâ€™t play well,â€ said Ganzi, â€œand dug a hole for ourselves when we lost our opening game to Grants Farm. Audi 6-goaler Juan Bollini was suffering from severe food poisoning the day of the Grants Farm match and was limited as to his contribution to the effort on the field. Grants Farm went on to score a 17-13 win and never look back.
In order for Audi to have secured a berth in Thursdayâ€™s semifinals they would need to have won on Sunday and have Mansour lose to Grants Farm. Neither happened.
Valientsâ€™s Nacho Astrada converted a penalty shot to open the game before goals from the field from Kris Kampsen and Luis Escobar gave Audi a 2-1 lead after the first chukker.
Valiente put up three goals in the second frame to take a 4-3 advantage. Disciplined defense held Audi to a single goal from Kampsen.
Audi bounced back in the third chukker with four unanswered goals. Marc Ganzi and Juan Bollini each scored a goal and Escobar added two more from the field for a handy 7-4 halftime lead. That was when Astrada came alive.
Suffering through an injury hampered season Astrada led the Valiente attack scoring a total of 10 goals on the day as Audi got steamrolled in the final three chukkers.
Carlucho Arellano added three goals to the fire and Federico Von Wernich chipped in four more when all was said and done, as the dazed Audi players pondered the 17-10 loss after the game.
â€œThey (Valiente) played very well today,â€ said Kampsen. â€œWe werenâ€™t on our game at all.â€
In the dayâ€™s second morning game, Mansour (2-1) managed just its second win all season in an 8-7 overtime victory over Grants Farm (2-1). Was the fix in? Weâ€™ll never know, but I would suggest that it would have been in Grants Farmâ€™s best interest to keep Audi off the field in favor of having Mansour in the mix.
The fact that Grants Farm was averaging over 14 goals a game and was held to a single goal in the final three chukkers of play makes it suspect. The fact that Jeff Hall had been averaging 7.5 goals per game and only accounted for three goals is also suspect, and the fact that it was only Mansourâ€™s second win of the entire California high-goal season does tend to make a case for it, but there arenâ€™t any rules against it, and it would be a Martin Zegers penalty goal in overtime that would finally end the game with Mansour taking the 8-7 win.
The fact that Mansour beat Grants Farm and finished in first place in its bracket must be a bit dismaying, however. The loss puts Grants Farm against a strong Patagones team in the semifinals while Mansour would end up facing ERG.
In a game they didnâ€™t need to win, Patagones (2-1) dropped a 10-9 contest to Lucchese (1-2) as Andres Weisz scored five times for the win.
The see-saw battle would not affect Patagonesâ€™ standing, and proved to be little more than an exercise for the horses as Lucchese added to a 6-5 halftime lead to take a 10-8 edge after the fifth chukker.
A late goal from Brandon Phillips in the sixth chukker cut the lead to a single goal, but time expired with Lucchese salvaging some pride and Patagones moving into a semifinal match against Mansour on Thursday.
In the final game of the day, Scott Woodâ€™s ERG foursome knocked Zacara out of the running with an 11-8 win, and found itself in the other semifinal against a surprising Mansour contingent.
ERG charged out to a 7-3 halftime lead and kept Zacara from getting back into the contest throughout the balance of the final three chukkers.
Paco de Narvaez led all scoring with five goals while teammate Gonzalo Deltour scored four times and Jeff Blake accounted for a pair of goals in the win.