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Press Release


Alfredo Capella

Tomas del Rio and Gonzalito Pieres

Nico Pieres

Hilario Ulloa

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Audi and White Birch Advance to U.S. Open Semifinals

Written by: Darlene Ricker & Jamie Saults
Client: United States Polo Association
Release Date: 2016-04-18

In the two quarterfinal matches Sunday in the 112th U.S. Open Polo Championship®, Audi defeated defending champion Valiente 13-6, and White Birch snatched a 13-12 win over Lucchese at the International Polo Cup Palm Beach (IPC). The victors advance to the semifinals, with Audi opposing Dubai and White Birch facing Orchard Hill.

Audi Shuts Out Valiente 13-6

Audi had defending champion Valiente on the run for the whole game, winning 13-6 and earning a ticket to the semifinals against Dubai. Gonzalo Pieres started the attack early in the first chukker, scoring for Audi. Later, With 0:45 left on the clock, Pieres got around Alfredo Cappella and passed the ball to Rodrigo Andrade, who took it all the way across the field into goal. Patron Marc Ganzi also scored a goal for Audi who kept their opponent scoreless to end the first chukker with a three-goal lead.

The second chukker had barely begun when Andrade scored again, making it 4-0 for Audi. Valiente patron Bob Jornayvaz made a superb defensive play but could not halt the Brazilian onslaught. Andrade turned it toward goal at 35 yards out, shot and scored. Pieres scored on a penalty 2 and again on a penalty 4. Cappella gave Valiente their first goal, but Audi closed the chukker with a staggering 7-1 advantage. For a short stretch Valiente chipped away at the deficit, keeping Audi from scoring in the third. Tomas Garcia del Rio was instrumental to Valiente’s surge, scoring in the third and then sending a pass to Cappella, who cruised past the defender and eased the ball into goal. The first half closed with Audi still in the driver’s seat 7-3.

Valiente’s forward push stalled, with the team unable to score in the fourth. Andrade stepped up the pace for Audi with two more goals. In the fifth, Pieres scored on a penalty 3 and then stunned spectators in the packed stadium with a missile of a cut shot into goal. Del Rio walked the ball through the posts for another Valiente goal. Going into the final chukker, Audi still held a commanding lead (11-4). Andrade and Pieres each made their sixth goals of the day in the final chukker. Although Cappella and del Rio came through in short order with one goal apiece from the field, the game ended with a 13-6 victory for Audi.

“It finally happened. It all came together! We played our best game of the season today—just in time,” said Ganzi. “We were very, very scared of this game. We have a lot of respect for Valiente. The important thing was that when we were hitting the ball, there was another guy behind. If we gave up a counter attack, there was another guy back. There were no easy goals for them, and I think we put a lot of pressure on. We are going to have to play like that on Wednesday.”

Andrade was named Most Valuable Player. “Foxi,” played by del Rio and owned by Valiente, was Best Playing Pony.

White Birch Slides Defeats Lucchese 13-12

n a quarterfinal that came as close as a game can possibly come without going into overtime, Mariano Aguerre saved the day for White Birch with a precision shot into goal in the final second of regulation play. It gave his team a 13-12 win over Lucchese and secured their spot in the U.S. Open Semifinals. It was a complex play, Aguerre slipped in behind Hilario Ulloa, he saw an opening in the crowd, and made a shot at goal. “They left me a gap, and I knew if I could keep the gap I could score,” said Aguerre.

The road to victory took more twists and turns than one could count, with White Birch dominating the first half and then nearly losing it all to Lucchese in the second. As Aguerre said after the game, “It was a great first half and a second half to forget.” Aguerre made three of his team’s goals, with Ulloa scoring the other 10. White Birch came out on top despite making a record 26 fouls, the game high for the entire 2016 season.

Ulloa initiated the White Birch scoring spree, with two goals from the field and two from the penalty line. Aguerre contributed two field goals, giving White Birch a 6-2 lead at the end of the second chukker. The first half closed with a six-point lead for White Birch (9-3).

Ulloa opened the second half with a penalty 2 goal, but then Lucchese suddenly poured it on. Including a penalty 1 in the fourth chukker, Lucchese accounted for the next five goals on the board. Ulloa came within a breath of scoring again in the last 30 seconds of the fourth, but time ran out. Ulloa made two goals in the fifth, the latter one taking White Birch ahead 12-9 by luring the defender in and then making an undefendable stealth 120-yard goal. Caset, the ultimate clutch player, came through with two penalty goals in the sixth (a total of 8 for the game), followed by a field goal by Magoo Laprida to tie at the game 12. Aguerre sealed the win 13-12 for White Birch with his last-second field goal.

The games were live streamed by ChukkerTV, a partner of the USPA Polo Network. Continuous live coverage of the U.S. Open resumes Wednesday, April 20, with the semifinals. Dubai opposes Audi at 10:00am, followed by Orchard Hill vs. White Birch at 4:00pm. All times are ET.

Mason Wroe was given the Team USPA Equus & Company award for the Team USPA player who best exemplifies the program’s principles through outstanding leadership and commitment to growing the sport. Wroe received a $10,000 check, and runners-up C.B. Scherer and Patrick Uretz each received $1,000.

The Wembley Award was presented to Mariano Aguerre for his mare Chomba, which he played to score the winning goal. He has successfully competed her for 10 years.


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