Semifinals set for The Memorial by Piaget
By Alex Webbe
It was a big day for Piaget at the Grand Champions Polo Clubâ€™s season-ending tournament, The Memorial by Piaget, as both the Piaget White team and the Piaget Black team scored wins in the opening round of play Thursday afternoon.
Playing on fields at the neighboring International Polo Club, Piaget Black opened the single-elimination tournament with a dazzling 8-4 win over Pony Express with a balanced attack that saw every member of the Piaget Black scoring.
Opening goals from Sugar Erskine (penalty conversion) and Gene Goldstein got the Piaget Black team off to an early 2-1 lead, with Ruben Gracida scoring the lone Pony Express goal of the chukker.
A penalty goal from Marc Ganzi made it 3-1 before Pony Express galloped back into the game. Tomas Goti scored on a penalty shot and added another from the field to knot it up at 3-3 but Erskineâ€™s second goal of the match ended the period with Piaget Black holding on to a 4-3 advantage.
The pace intensified as the third period wore on. Erskine scored from the field while several Pony Express shots at goal missed their mark. At the end of the first half Piaget Black led, 5-3.
Defense took the field in the fourth chukker with shots being blocked and passes being intercepted by both teams. With no effective attack scoring a goal, the teams left the pitch with Piaget Black coasting on its 5-3 lead.
The fifth chukker was the breakout period for Piaget Black. Ganzi picked up the ball in the Piaget Black end of the field and carried it the length of the pitch for a goal followed by a pair of goals from Lucas Lalor. Piaget Black had extended its lead to five goals, 8-3, at the end of the fifth chukker.
Pony Express fought to get back into the game, with Piaget Black comfortable, playing defense. Goti managed to score the single goal of the chukker for Pony Express, but it would be Piaget Black who would ride into semifinal action against Tres Vinos (received a first round bye) on Friday afternoon at 4pm.
Erskine led all scoring with three goals. Teammates Ganzi and Lalor added two goals apiece while Goldstein added a single goal in the win.
Goti led the Pony Express offensive efforts with three goals with Gracida adding a goal from the field.
PIAGET WHITE 8, GRAND CHAMPIONS 7
In the second bracket of play in The Memorial by Piaget, Paget White scored a hard-fought 8-7 win over Grand Champions, earning it the other position in the Friday afternoon 5:30 pm semifinals against Santa Clara (via a first round bye).
Grand Champions got on the scoreboard first when Hector Galindo took a well-placed pass from teammate Walter Scherb and tapped it through the goal posts for a 1-0 lead. Paget White, however, wasted little time in charging back into the game, picking up a goal from Juan Badiola and a pair of goals from 8-goaler Nic Roldan. The chukker ended with Paget White riding off with an early 3-1 advantage.
Grand Champions got its attack in gear in the second period, picking up single goals from Galindo and Scherb to even it up at 3-3 with Paget White struggling to find its first chukker form.
Roldan converted a penalty shot in the third period, but Scherb kept it all even at 4-4 with his second goal of the day. Paget White has several scoring opportunities, but an alert Grand champions defense kept it all even after the first half of play.
Badiola and Melissa Ganzi scored single goals in the fourth for a 6-4 lead, but a last minute score from Chris Nevins cut the lead to a single goal, 6-5, with two chukkers to play.
Grand Champions came alive in the fifth with two more goals from Scherb as he wove his way through the Paget White defenders in back to back scoring efforts. Melissa Ganzi tied it up at 7-7 to end the period with the outcome very much in doubt.
The pace was fast and furious with both teams struggling to put a goal on the scoreboard. Drives down the field by Grand Champions were frustrated time and again by the smothering Piaget White defense. Paget White had a number of close scoring opportunities in the final chukker before Roldan finally scored the winning goal.
Roldan scored four times for Piaget White, with teammates Badiola and Ganzi adding two goals apiece in the win. Scherb led the Grand champions attack with four goals. Galindo scored twice and Nevins added a goal in the losing effort.