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Press Release

ATTACHED PHOTOS

Polito Pieres, Marc Ganzi and Facundo Pieres

Facundo Pieres, Gonzalito Pieres and Polito Pieres

Gonzalito Pieres and Polito Pieres

Marc Ganzi, Rodrigo Andrade, Grant Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres and Freddie Mannix

BPP Rosparita Gonzalito Pieres

Gillian Johnston and Agustin Garcia Grossi

Juan Martin Nero and Julio Arellano

Pelon Stering and Nico Pieres

Gillian Johnston, Sugar Erskine, Pelon Sterling and Julio Arellano

BPP Renato Pelon Sterling

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.

Audi Drives Off With USPA Piaget Gold Cup; Defeats Orchard Hill 16-15 in Overtime

Written by: Alannah Castro & Darlene Ricker
Client: International Polo Club Palm Beach
Release Date: 2015-03-22

Wellington, FL – March 22, 2015 – Audi triumphed over Orchard Hill 16-15 in overtime Sunday to win the 2015 USPA Piaget Gold Cup in the featured match on Engel & Völkers field at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). It marked the second time Audi has clinched the Gold Cup, having won in 2011, also at IPC.

Gonzalito Pieres and his mount, Rosparita, were recognized for their stellar play in the 2015 final. Pieres, who made the winning goal aboard the mare, was named MVP. Rosparita, who Pieres also played in the second and sixth chukkers, received the Best-Playing Pony award for the match. The Horse of the Tournament award went to Jackie, Polito Pieres’ mount in the fourth chukker.

Earlier in the day Coca-Cola won the Engel & Völkers Tesoro Cup, defeating Lechuza Caracas 14-11.

Orchard Hill                         Audi
Steve Van Andel   A               Marc Ganzi   1
Ezequiel Ferrario   7               Rodrigo Andrade   9
Polito Pieres   9                     Gonzalito Pieres   9
Facundo Pieres   10               Freddie Mannix   6

It all came down to a penalty shot – and the dead-eye aim of Gonzalito Pieres – to seal the deal for Audi. In an overtime fraught with more anxiety than the stands seemed able to contain, Pieres slammed in his tenth goal, taking the win with authority.

It was a déjà vu moment for Audi, which had also won the 2011 Gold Cup in overtime on a penalty shot by a Pieres. That time it was Nico Pieres, whose slot was filled this year by Freddie Mannix. Other than that, Audi’s lineup was the same Sunday as it had been in its 2011 win.

With just four seconds left in regulation play, Facundo Pieres stole the ball and tied the game at 15-all. Then came the clincher. Audi won the throw-in, but Andrade lost control of the ball. Ganzi snagged it and shot an immediate pass to Mannix, who played a very effective and aggressive number 4 throughout the match. Polito Pieres stole the ball from Mannix. The whistle sounded, with a penalty three awarded to Audi. Orchard Hill challenged the call, and officials reviewed the play on instant replay (provided by horseplay.tv, which live-streamed the game) for what felt to spectators like an eternity. Then came the ruling, which everyone knew in all likelihood would dictate the outcome of the tournament: The foul stood. Game over.

The match had begun 1-0 for Audi because of its handicap in the 26-goal tournament. For the first few chukkers both teams played very tight, almost on top of each other, to keep the opposing team from getting the line. At the end of the first chukker Audi was leading 3-1, with all the goals on the board Pieres points (Gonzalito and Facundo). The two brothers peppered the scoreboard with more points in the second. Gonzolito Pieres pulled off two equally amazing consecutive plays. In the first he jumped on a bouncing ball, bought himself some time on the outside of the pack and made a single slick shot straight into goal. In the next play he stole the ball from his cousin, Polito Pieres, and worked it on both sides of his pony. Going full tilt boogie, it looked like he was on the verge of losing the ball, but in a flash he reached back and made a pinpoint pass to Mannix, who ran it into goal.

Both teams seemed apprehensive and remained heavy on the defense until about three-quarters of the way into the third chukker, when things started to loosen up. The first half ended 8-6 for Audi. Facundo Pieres went on a scoring frenzy in the fourth, racking up four points and bringing Orchard Hill into a slim lead for the first and only time in the game. Andrade made a neckshot, and Mannix jumped on the line. Riding a gray speed stick, he poured it on, passing three, then four, then five players and running the ball straight into goal. From that point on, the score swapped back and forth between a tie and a one-point lead, which Audi stretched to two in the fifth and sixth chukkers. Gonzalito Pieres promptly did it again for Audi, but Polito and Facundo Pieres came right back with three goals – the last of which, courtesy of Facundo Pieres, tied the game at 15-all with just four seconds left in regulation play.

How did it feel going into overtime?

“Our hands were around our own neck,” said Mannix with a laugh as he pretended to choke himself. “It would have been hard to not win this game being up by two with a minute and 40 to go, but Polito’s an amazing player and he made a great play, and Facundo made an incredible goal there at the end.” He gave a nod toward Gonzolito Pieres. “We’re just lucky that we have a great player here – Gonzolito made it look easy at the end. What a game!”

Gonzolito Pieres said he found it “a bit frustrating the way that we had the game nearly won with a penalty five, and I had possession of the ball and Polito took it and they tied the game. It was important that we won the last throw-in and came back. We believe in the team. We tried to open up the game, and we did it well.”

Ganzi was thrilled with the outcome. “It feels amazing!” he said. “We’ve worked so hard for the last three years to get back to this place.” He attributed Audi’s win to “the whole organization, from Melissa (his wife), to the horses, to the fields, to the players, to making the plan with Gonzolito and Freddie back in August. It’s a dream. We fought really hard to get back here, and it means a lot to the whole organization. It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and keeping to our dream.

“This team showed a lot of heart today. We stayed really disciplined and compact in our defense. We didn’t give them a lot. You really have to play every minute of the game against Facundo and Polito.”

Ganzi had awoken Sunday morning not knowing whether he would be playing in the final. Four days ago he injured his shoulder in the semifinals, and his son, Grant Ganzi, subbed in. The 16-year-old remained on deck Sunday in case he was needed again.

“I hit a few balls at 9:30 this morning to see how my arm was, and it felt OK,” said Marc Ganzi. He periodically reassessed his condition, not making the final decision to play until about 15 minutes before the game.

Both Audi and Orchard Hill came into the final undefeated. “That’s a great team,” said Ganzi of his opponents. “They played amazing. They’re champions. They’re the team to beat here, still. The U.S. Open’s going to go through them; we know it.”

Coca-Cola defeated Lechuza Caracas 14-11 in the final of the Engel & Völkers Tesoro Cup. Gillian Johnston was awarded Most Valuable Player and Pelon Stirling's sixth chukker mount Renato was presented with Best Playing Pony.

Coca-Cola                         Lechuza Caracas
Gillian Johnston   2             Victor Vargas   1
Sugar Erskine   6                Nico Pieres   8
Pelon Stirling   10               Agustin Garcia Grossi   7
Julio Arellano   8                Juan Martin Nero   10

Coca-Cola took control of the game from the very first throw-in, immediately making a run to goal and playing their signature passing game to score the first goal of the game. Gillian Johnston made the first of several blazing fast runs to drive a goal in from a pass from Sugar Erskine and make the score 2-0. A penalty conversion from Pelon Stirling and an amazing pick from Johnston ended the first chukker with Coca-Cola firmly in the lead.

Two more unanswered goals had Coca-Cola leading 6-0 in the beginning of the second chukker. A penalty shot by Julio Arellano was blocked by Nico Pieres who shot a pass to Juan Martin Nero. Nero went on the run and put the first goal up on the board for Lechuza Caracas.

A penalty conversion by Arellano made the score 7-1. In what was the play of the game, Arellano had possession of the ball in traffic and Erskine made a perfectly timed hook on the defending Lechuza Caracas player to allow Arellano to drive the ball through the uprights. At that point Lechuza Caracas took off on a scoring spree, making four unanswered goals to end the half 8-5.

Two penalty conversions by Lechuza Caracas put them within one goal of Coca-Cola at the beginning of the fourth chukker. Arellano thought otherwise, and scored two goals in rapid succession. To start off the fifth chukker, Erskine picked Agustin Garcia Grossi and flipped the ball into the goal to make the score 11-7.

Coca-Cola's passing game came into play. Arellano sent Stirling a pass. Stirling drove the ball to Johnston, who sealed the deal. Lechuza Caracas took a page from Coca-Cola's book. Nero passed to Victor Vargas. Vargas took the ball through traffic, flipped it to Pieres who finished the job to end the fifth chukker 12-8.

A breakaway by Johnston increased Coca-Cola's lead to five goals, but Lechuza Caracas turned on the heat to bring them within two goals. A final goal by Stirling with a minute left in the match created an insurmountable lead, and Coca-Cola ended the game 14-11.

Arellano credited Johnston's speed and accuracy for their win.

"Our MVP put us in the lead today and we just had to maintain it," said Arellano with a smile. "She (Johnston) was on fire today."

Stirling felt that this game was a good warm-up for the U.S. Open, which begins on Saturday, March 28.

"We were a little bit unlucky in the [USPA Piaget] Gold Cup. We lost the penalty shootout with Lechuza Caracas and Valiente," said Stirling. "Our last game was quite a while ago, so it was good for us to get a good run in before next weekend when the Open starts to kind of wake up again and get into a game rhythm."

 

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