Audi Drives Over Pony Express 14-7
By Alex Webbe
After sleep-walking through the first two 26-goal tournaments of the season, the talented Audi polo team scored a 14-7 win over Pony Express in the opening round of play in the 106th United States Open Championship at the International Polo Club in Wellington Sunday afternoon.
Having little impact in the seasonâ€™s C. V. Whitney Cup and Piaget Gold Cup, the Audi lineup seemed to wake up and play with the intensity that earned them the 2009 Open title.
Audi drove off to an early 3-0 lead after the opening chukker on the strength of three penalty goals. Early foul trouble put Audi at the foul line where two efforts by Facundo Pieres and another by brother Gonzalito Pieres accounted for virtually all of the scoring in the first seven-and-a-half minutes of play.
Pony Express showed a spark in the second chukker, getting single goals from Bautista Heguy and Matias Magrini, but each of the Pieres brothers managed a goal in the chukker. Gonzalito Pieres scored early in the period and Facundo Pieres displayed talented mallet-work in the final seconds of the chukker.
Two more goals from Facundo Pieres and a goal from Audi team captain Marc Ganzi in the third were answered by a single goal from Bautista Heguy, and Pony Express left the field at the end of the first half trailing by five goals, 8-3.
Audi continued to roll in the second half with Facundo Pieres adding three more goals while holding Pony Express to a single penalty goal conversion by Carlos Gracida. Audi stretched its lead to seven goals, 11-4.
Gonzalito Pieres scored twice in the fifth while the Audi defense held Pony Express to a single goal from Gracida. Audiâ€™s lead now stood at eight goals, 13-5, with one chukker to play.
The frantic pace continued for Audi throughout the balance of the match, with Inaki Laprida putting Audi up 14-5 on a goal to open the final chukker. Pony Express came back with a pair of goals from Matias Magrini, but Audi truly held the upper hand as they scored a decisive 14-7 win.
Inaki Laprida was named MVP while Gonzalito Pieresâ€™s 11-year-old brown Argentine mare, Pampeana, received Best Playing Pony honors.
ORCHARD HILL 17, PIAGET 8
In one of the most one-sided games of the high-goal season, Orchard Hill scored a 17-8 US Open win over an ineffective Piaget team that was held to three goals in the entire first half.
Orchard Hillâ€™s Lucas Criado scored the first two goals of the day in a motion that should have been an open for the balance of the afternoon.
Nic Roldan got Piaget on the scoreboard before a goal from Orchard Hill 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough ended the chukker with a goal for a 3-1 lead.
Three second chukker goals from MacDonough and another goal from Criado had Orchard Hill up, 7-1 at the end of the period as Piaget struggled to find its offense.
Criado scored three more goals for Orchard Hill in the third chukker with Juan Bollini accounting for a pair of Piaget goals. Orchard Hill took a commanding 10-3 lead to the sidelines with them to close the first half of the game.
Criado scored the opening goal of the fourth period followed by a pair of goals from team captain Steve Van Andel. Piaget was shutout for the second time that day, and trailed by ten goals, 13-3.
Piaget returned to the field in the fifth chukker ready to play, but it was a case of too little, too late, with American 9-goaler Nic Roldan scoring three times and Argentine 10-goaler Lolo Castagnola scoring on a penalty goal. Orchard hill was held to a pair of goals from Macdonough, and the score had Piaget behind, 15-7.
There was no letup from Piaget in the final chukker, but the day belonged to Orchard Hill. Van Andel scored his third goal of the game followed by Criadoâ€™s eighth score. Castagnola accounted for the final goal of the match on a penalty conversion, and the game ended in a 17-8 win.
US Open play resumes on Wednesday afternoon at the International Polo Club when Audi (1-0) meets Crab Orchard (0-0) at 1 pm followed by a 3 pm contest between Pony Express (0-1) and Orchard Hill (1-0).