Pilot Claims CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship®
The conclusion to the Gauntlet of Polo™ at the International Polo Club Palm Beach featured an exciting match-up in the final of the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship® with Pilot defeating Las Monjitas 12-7 to complete an undefeated season and claim the $1,000,000 prize.
In front of the packed grandstand on Field 1, Pilot maintained their effective strategy of ball control and short accurate passes to build their attack. Along with dominating the throw-in line, Pilot’s elite duo of Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres won the possession battle in the game, working seamlessly together with Matias Gonzalez blocking defenders to create space. Led by the seven-goal performance by Facundo Pieres and accurate 69% shooting from the field, Pilot held the upper hand in open play, with their organised defence also holding Las Monjitas to just 33% from the field in the convincing victory.
The opening chukka featured a dominant Pilot attack that raced out to a quick 4-0 lead, keeping Las Monjitas pinned in their own half. Two goals from Facundo Pieres, one from the field and one on a Penalty 1, displayed Pilot’s potent attack with their performance from the throw-in line a contributing factor in building a large lead. Winning all five throw-ins in the chukka kept the possession with Pilot as Las Monjitas was left trying to defend the two-man game of Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres. Trailing 4-1, Las Monjitas increased their defensive pressure to begin forcing turnovers and create a counter-attack that was led by Francisco Elizalde and Hilario Ulloa, combining for six shots in the remainder of the half. Pilot prevented uncontested runs to goal for Las Monjitas, resulting in difficult shots from distance that Las Monjitas was unable to convert, missing all six shot attempts. The increased pressure from Las Monjitas caused three fouls from Pilot, but inaccurate 1 for 4 shooting from the penalty line kept Las Monjitas trailing 5-3 at halftime.
Regrouping to begin the second half, Pilot displayed the same potent attack that was seen in the opening chukka scoring four goals to extend their lead from two to five. Facundo Pieres played at an elite 10-goal level with two goals and an assist in the chukka, taking advantage of Las Monjitas foul trouble to effectively score from the possession on their Penalty 5’s. In desperate need of offense, Hilario Ulloa scored his first goal of the game, but three missed shot attempts for Las Monjitas due to shooting from distance, kept the deficit at five. An early Penalty 3 conversion for Facundo Pieres to begin the final chukka extended the lead to six, leaving Las Monjitas without enough time to make a comeback and securing the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship® title for Pilot with the 12-7 victory. Capturing all three tournaments, Pilot claimed the inaugural Gauntlet of Polo™ and the $1,000,000 prize thanks to a perfect 16-0 record on the season.