Lechuza Downs Audi in Gold Cup
By Alex Webbe
In a rematch of the C. V. Whitney Cup finals three weeks ago, Lechuza Caracas avenged the loss as it scored an 11-10 win over a talent-laden Audi team in the finals of the 2009 USPA Piaget Gold Cup Sunday afternoon at the International Polo Club in
Single goals from Audiâ€™s Facundo Pieres and Lechuzaâ€™s Sapo Caset had the score tied at 1-1 after the opening chukker of play as the teams jockeyed for control of the game.
Audiâ€™s Gonzalito Pieres accounted for the only goal of the second chukker as both teams tightened up their defenses. A missed penalty shot by Facundo Pieres left the score at 2-1, Audi after the second period.
Gonzalito Pieres opened the third chukker with a goal to put Audi up 3-1, but Lechuza was just getting their rhythm. Goals from 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero and Nicolas Espain tied it at 3-3 as time expired.
â€œThey have some very good horses,â€ said Lechuza team captain Victor Vargas. The Pieres brothers brought some of their top horses up from Argentina this year. They are almost unbeatable.â€
When asked if Vargas had restocked his pony pool the Venezuelan native replied that he felt comfortable with the horses he had.
A Lechuza gave Audi a penalty shot, of which Facundo Pieres made short work, while brother Nicolas Pieres added a goal from the field on a difficult angle shot through the goal posts. Lechuza was shut out for the second time and trailed 5-3 after four chukkers.
â€œWe decided to change our strategy in the second half,â€ said Vargas. â€œInstead of dribbling like they were doing,â€ he said, â€œWe would hit and release the ball. It was that strategy that led to my fifth chukker goal on a pass from Juan Martin (Nero), and his sixth chukker goal on a pass from me.â€
The offensives revved up in the fifth period with each team accounting for three goals.
Audi got two penalty conversions from Facundo Pieres and a goal from Audi team captain Marc Ganzi while Vargas and Caset each scored one goal from the field with Caset adding a second goal on a penalty shot. Audi maintained a two goal lead as the chukker ended, 8-6.
â€œWe saved our best horses for last,â€ offered Espain after the game, and his teammates made the most of it. Caset scored the first goal f the chukker within 30 seconds while Gonzalito answered back for Audi. Nero scored two consecutive goals to tie the game at 9-9 before Casetâ€™s fifth goal of the game put Lechuza ahead for the first time all afternoon with 2:11 left in the game.
Audi was fouled with less than 90 seconds on the clock, and Facundo Pieres tied it again at 10-10.
Following the after goal throw-in, Lechuza took control of the game. A hard-charging Espain carried the ball down the field, and with 22 seconds left to play slammed it through the Audi goal for the winning score.
â€œIâ€™m very happy for the win,â€ said a jubilant Vargas after the game, â€œeveryone worked very hard for this victory.â€
Caset led Lechuza with five goals. Nero scored three times, Vargas added a goal, and Espain added two goals to the Lechuza total, including the winning mark.
Audiâ€™s Facundo Pieres scored five goals for Audi, Gonzalito Pieres scored three times and Nicolas Pieres and Marc Ganzi added single goals in the loss.
Martin JuanNeroâ€™s 8-year-old chestnut mare, Minibank, was named Best Playing Pony while Nicolas Espain received MVP honors.
High-goal polo action will continue on Friday, April 3 at 4pm when Orchard Hill meets Pony Express in the opening game of the 2009 US Open Championship.