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Steve Van Andel, Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario, Polito Pieres, Facundo Pieres.

Polito Pieres

Polito Pieres and Julian Mannix

Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario and Mariano Aguerre.

Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario and Hilario Ulloa.

Best Playing Pony "NutraSweet", played by Facundo Pieres.

Sebastian Merlos, Facundo Sola, Juan Martin Nero.

Lechuza Caracas Victor Vargas, Nico Pieres, Agustin Garcia Grossi, Juan Martin Nero

Camilo Bautista, Juan Martin Nero, Eduardo Astrada.

Camilo Bautista and Eduardo Astrada.

Best Playing Pony "Patagonia", played by Sebastian Merlos.

Click on the above photos for details and a high resolution version.

Photographs may be used free of charge only in relation to the PMG press releases they pertain to.

Orchard Hill Thunders to 16-13 Win in C.V. Whitney Cup Final; Lechuza def Las Monjitas 12-11 in Les Armour Cup Final

Written by: Alannah Castro & Darlene Ricker
Client: International Polo Club Palm Beach
Release Date: 2015-03-01

Orchard Hill Thunders to 16-13 Win in C.V. Whitney Cup Final
Defeats Alegria With a Double Dose of Pieres Power

Whitney Cup on the Engel & Völkers field Sunday at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), besting Alegria 16-13 in the 26-goal tournament final. Orchard Hill’s Facundo Pieres was named MVP and his sixth-chukker mount, Nutrasweet, won best-playing pony. The Stella Artois "She's a Thing of Beauty" Horse of the Tournament award went to Los Machitos Maradona, ridden in the third chukker by Alegria’s Mariano Aguerre.

Orchard Hill                           Alegria
Steve Van Andel   A               Julian Mannix   4
Ezequiel Ferrario   7               Hilario Ulloa   9
Polito Pieres   9                      Mariano Aguerre   9
Facundo Pieres   10               Sterling Giannico   4

It was a stunning victory over Alegria, the defending champion of the United States Open Polo Championship, Orchard Hill rode off with its second trophy of the 2015 IPC season, having won the Joe Barry Cup in January.

It was clear from the get-go that this was going to be a high-scoring game — but whose game was anybody’s guess until Orchard Hill slowly but surely established its dominance. The first chukker was a scoring blitz for Alegria, with Julian Mannix slamming in four goals in the first couple of minutes. Keeping an eye on him from the sidelines was enough to give one a case of whiplash. Mannix blazed from one end of the field to the other and scored, only to follow up with the same act in the opposite direction. Then he did it all over again.

“I think we had a really bad first chukker,” said Facundo Pieres. “We lost all the throw-ins, and Julian (Mannix) was scoring and scoring.” He characterized Alegria’s ability to score from the throw-ins as, “Mistakes from us – mostly from me. So I knew that I had to not go crazy about it and that good things were going to come, and they did. We just had to keep playing the same game.”

That was easier said than done, however. Alegria started mixing things up left and right, taking every opportunity to scramble the lineup. ““It was a lot of changing around who was on who,” said Steve Van Andel. “They changed, we changed, they changed. It started out that Julian (Mannix) was on me. Then he was not on me. Then someone else was.”

The points kept racking up in rapid succession on Alegria’s side of the board until something seemed to awaken a sleeping tiger in Pieres. The 10-goaler pounced on the field and made three goals, effectively putting the brakes on Mannix’s scoring streak by the end of the first chukker.

Alegria was clinging to a slim lead as the second chukker opened 5-4. It crept forward with a field goal by Sterling Giannico, but the team didn’t score again until the second half. Meanwhile, Orchard Hill reaped a scoring bonanza from its pair of Piereses (cousins Facundo and Polito), who each made two field goals in the second chukker.

The third chukker opened 8-6 for Orchard Hill, which maintained the lead all the way to the final horn. Alegria tried at every turn to thwart its opponent, savoring a spate of hope when Hilario Ulloa made a string of five goals in the second half. But even that wasn’t enough to counter the sustained Pieres push that kept Orchard Hill in a three-to-four-point lead at the end of every chukker from the third on.

With the speed and agility of an antelope, Facundo Pieres scored in every chukker, making a phenomenal nine points for Orchard Hill. What may have appeared to be a one-man show, however, was the result of countless assists by his teammates (in particular Polito Pieres, who doggedly ran interference for him). The same could be said in principle for Alegria’s teamwork, although it wasn’t calibrated as tightly as the Orchard Hill machine. All told, every player on the field scored at least once, a major achievement in a 26-goal tournament final.

Van Andel said he thought Orchard Hill got the advantage by staying with the men longer. “But I’ll tell ya,” he added, “It was anybody’s game. It was tough.”

Polito Pieres agreed that it was an extremely difficult game. “That team is four pros, and we knew they were going to be very tough. That’s why we weren’t surprised when they changed and tried new tactics,” he said. “But we came strong on them, and the four of us played well together as a team. We always support each other, and that’s how we won it.”

Play continues Tuesday with CT Energia taking on Palm Beach Illustrated and Villa del Lago facing off with Tonkawa in the 20-goal Iglehart Cup semifinals.

Lechuza Caracas Puts It All On The Field
Defeats Las Monjitas 12-11 in OT

Lechuza Caracas triumphed over Las Monjitas 12-11 in overtime in the final of the Les Armour Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The Most Valuable Player honor was awarded to Nico Pieres and Best Playing Pony was Patagonia, ridden by Sebastian Merlos.

Lechuza Caracas                      Las Monjitas
Victor Vargas   1                        Camilo Bautista   A
Nico Pieres   8                           Facundo Sola   8T
Agustin Garcia Grossi   7            Sebastian Merlos   9
Juan Martin Nero   10                 Eduardo Astrada   9

The match kicked off with an energetic start as Nico Pieres drove in the first goal for Lechuza Caracas within the first 25 seconds of play. After Facundo Sola matched Pieres' goal, Lechuza Caracas organized their defensive players to give Pieres room to score again and ended the first chukker with a one-goal lead.

From there on out, it was anyone's game with Lechuza Caracas and Las Monjitas staying within two goals of each other for the rest of the half.  Overall, the fast pace set in the first chukker was maintained. Although the players would become tightly clustered, it was only seconds before a player would explode out into a run.

At the start of the second half, it was Sola and Sebastian Merlos who took charge, scoring for Las Monjitas. Pieres' skill from the penalty line kept Lechuza Caracas in the match with two important penalty conversions to stay within two points of Las Monjitas. However, it was late in the fifth chukker when things got Western. Sola went off on a hot streak, scoring two goals in succession to make the score 11-7 in the early minutes of the sixth chukker.

Victor Vargas dodged defenders to take the ball within feet of the goalmouth and Pieres backed him up to score. A penalty conversion by Pieres narrowed the lead to two goals. Juan Martin Nero maneuvered through traffic to drive a goal in, and a penalty conversion in the last minute of the sixth chukker tied the game 11-11. What looked like a done deal was now up for grabs by either team.

Overtime continued the wide-open pace that characterized the entire game. Nero made an attempt on goal, but the shot went wide, putting the ball in Las Monjitas possession. After some play by both sides, it was Pieres who drove in the goal that sealed the victory for Lechuza Caracas.

Pieres credited his team's determination for their win.

"The game finished in the last seconds of the last chukker, so we wanted to put everything on the field, and that's what we did," said Pieres.

Vargas said that his team has improved with every game and he shared that he looks forward to the upcoming USPA Piaget Gold Cup.

"The lineup is better because we put [Agustin] Garcia Grossi in the back and Juan Martin [Nero] at number three," said Vargas. "Juan Martin has more of a view of the game, and Agustin plays well in the back. We'll see what happens in the Gold Cup. But this game was a very good test for us."

Play continues Tuesday, March 3 at 10 a.m. with CT Energia taking on Palm Beach Illustrated and Villa del Lago facing off with Tonkawa in the semifinals of the Iglehart Cup.


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