WELLINGTON, FL-January 27, 2013-Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi lost a hardfought 11-9 decision to Crab Orchard Sunday in the championship final of the Joe Barry Memorial Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Led by the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Matias Magrini and Argentine Open MVP Mariano Aguerre, Crab Orchard came back from a 3-1 deficit early in the game and jumped on Audi for three unanswered goals in the fourth chukker.
After a year’s absence, Crab Orchard returned to the winners’ circle in its first tournament of the high goal polo season. It was the first time Crab Orchard won the 20-goal tournament in the team’s history.
“To come back and make it to the finals is a big deal,” said Crab Orchard player-sponsor George Rawlings.
“We stayed up with them in the first half even though we weren’t playing our best game and just ground it out,” Rawlings said. “We never did get our game going. Audi is a very tough team. We just had to keep grinding it out.”
Audi chipped away at Crab Orchard’s lead in the fifth chukker outscoring them 2-0 and trailing 9-8 to start the sixth chukker. Magrini and Felipe Viana converted penalty shots for goals and held Audi to one goal by Nico Pieres.
Magrini and Aguerre each scored five goals for Crab Orchard (4-1). Aguerre’s fourth chukker horse Machitos Jackie was named Best Playing Pony.
“It’s great to come back after last year,” Rawlings said. “We have never won this tournament, so it’s good for our trophy case. This was the one we wanted to win.”
Crab Orchard, a three-time U.S. Open champion, sat out last season after the USPA, the sport’s governing body, raised Pelon Stirling’s handicap to 10 at the start of the 2012 season making it impossible for the team to find a new player and compete.
Audi, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, had its chances to win the game. Audi was ahead 3-1 early in the game and was deadlocked 6-6 at the half.
“We were very lucky to stay close with them in the first half, they have a rhythm that’s very tough to beat,” said Aguerre, who played against his brother-in-law Nico Pieres. “They can do damage on every part of the field. We knew if we took them out of their rhythm we could do damage and we did.”
Said Audi player-sponsor Marc Ganzi: “We were up 3-1. We were hitting the ball and releasing the ball. We were beating them, then the game changed.”
Aguerre and Nico Pieres were teammates on the winning Ellerstina team at the 2012 Argentine Open. “I like playing with him more, it’s much better to play with him,” Aguerre said. “The win in Argentina was so spectacular that it makes it hard to play against him.”
Audi’s Nic Roldan, a Cardinal Newman alum, scored a game-high seven goals, all on penalty shots, and finished as the tournament’s leading scorer with 32 goals in five games.
“We didn’t put six chukkers together,” Roldan said. “I think we played a good five chukkers and dominated. They killed us in the fourth chukker. We had to fight back, fight back, fight back. They played well. Obviously, they were the better team today.”
Audi finished the tournament with a 3-2 record.
Audi’s Carlitos Gracida broke his right foot in two places in the opening chukker when he collided with two players and got knocked off his horse. He finished the game and then had x-rays taken to determine the extent of the injury, according to Audi trainer Jeremy Fedoruk.
In the Bobby Barry Cup subsidiary game, Valiente defeated La Herradura, 12-9. Santiago Torres of Valiente was MVP and teammate Adolfo Cambiaso led with seven goals and his horse, Miami, was best playing pony. Miami was bred by Piaget’s Melissa Ganzi of Grand Champions Polo Club.
Roldan was coming off Saturday’s win in the final of the 14-goal Wanderers Classic playing for Tonkawa where he scored four goals and was named MVP.
The third 20-goal tournament of the season, the Ylvisaker Cup, begins Thursday with Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget, the defending champion, playing Coca-Cola at 10 a.m. Audi returns to the field on Friday against Lucchese at 1 p.m.
|Marc Ganzi of Audi hitting the ball against Crab Orchard’s 9-goaler Mariano Aguerre. Photo credits Alex Pacheco.|
AUDI/PIAGET TOURNAMENT LINEUP
Jan. 31-Feb. 24, Ylvisaker Cup
Feb. 20-March 3, Iglehart Cup
Feb. 20-March 3, CV Whitney Cup
March 5-March 24, USPA Piaget Gold Cup
March 26-April 21, 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.
INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action. Everyone is welcome to watch polo during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League Tournament.