USPA Piaget Gold Cup Finals: Audi vs. Lechuza Caracas

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 Wellington.


Single goals from Audi’s Facundo Pieres and Lechuza’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.


Audi’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.


“They have some very good horses,” said Lechuza team captain Victor Vargas.  The Pieres brothers brought some of their top horses up from Argentina this year.  They are almost unbeatable.”


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.


“We decided to change our strategy in the second half,” said Vargas.  “Instead of dribbling like they were doing,” he said, “We 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.”


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.


“We saved our best horses for last,” 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 Caset’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.


“I’m very happy for the win,” said a jubilant Vargas after the game, “everyone worked very hard for this victory.”

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.


Audi’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 JuanNero’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.