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Wins by Crab Orchard and Lechuza set the stage for the US Open semifinals
By Alex Webbe
Crab Orchard (Peke Gonzalez, Magoo Laprida, Facundo Pieres and Paco de Narvaez) and Lechuza Caracas (Victor Vargas, Nico Pieres, Juan Martin Nero and Nico Espain) scored wins Sunday afternoon at the International Polo Club to qualify for the semifinals of the 2014 Maserati US Open.
The opening game of the day featured 10-goalers Facundo Pieres (Crab Orchard) and Gonzalito Pieres (Audi) in a 13-12 scoring explosion that went down to the final shot in the game before Crab Orchard could ride off the field with the win over Audi (Marc Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade and Gonzalo Del Tour) and a berth in Wednesday’s 4PM Maserati US Open semifinal game against Alegria (Julian Mannix, Clemente Zavaleta, Mariano Aguerre and Hilario Ulloa).
Audi’s Gonzalo Del Tour scored the first goal of the game at 6:11 before a volley of Crab Orchard Goals found Audi trailing 3-1. Facundo Pieres tied it at 1-1, with Magoo Laprida giving Crab Orchard the 2-1 edge at the 3:23 mark of the chukker. Facundo Pieres tore down the field with the ball and scored to give Crab Orchard a two goal lead, 3-1 to end the first period of play.
Audi rebounded in the second, scoring three consecutive goals to tie, 3-3, and then take a 4-3 lead over Crab Orchard in the second period. Marc Ganzi scored the opening goal of the chukker at the 6:37 mark followed by a 60-yard penalty conversion from Gonzalito Pieres and a well-executed nearside backhander from Del Tour at 2:43. With 1:37 left in the period, Facundo Pieres scored his third goal of the game to knot it up at 4-4.
A dangerous riding call resulted in horse and rider (Gonzalo Del Tour) going down to the ground with Crab Orchard being awarded a 30-ayrd penalty shot that Facundo Pieres converted for a goal, 5-4. Less than a minute later another Audi foul sent Facundo Pieres back to the penalty line where he converted the shot for another goal that had Crab Orchard on top, 6-4. Facundo’s older brother, Gonzalito Pieres, responded in kind, converting on a pair of 30-yard penalty shots that had it all even at 6-6. With 22 seconds on the clock, Facundo Pieres scored the final goal of the first half with 22 seconds left to play. The first half ended with Crab Orchard holding on to a precarious 7-6 advantage.
Facundo Pieres scored in the opening 30 seconds of the fourth chukker to give Crab Orchard a two goal lead, 8-6. Audi answered back with a 30-yard penalty goal from Gonzalito Pieres a minute later. At the 5:02 mark of the chukker Rodrigo Andrade scored the final goal of the period, and the score was tied again, 8-8.
Laprida and Paco de Narvaez scored the first two goals of the fifth, with Laprida scoring on a well-placed backhander less than a minute into the chukker (6:43) and de Narvaez adding a goal midway through the period, 10-8. Gonzalito Pieres closed out the period with a goal from the field at 1:49 and a 60-yard penalty conversion with 33 seconds on the clock for a 10-10 deadlock.
De Narvaez and Gonzalito Pieres traded the next four goals, with the score standing at 12-12 with 3:15 on the clock. Facundo Pieres notched the final goal of the match at the 2:23 mark, with Crab Orchard playing keep away with Audi for the balance of the game. When the final horn was sounded it was Crab Orchard who rode off the field and would be playing in Wednesday’s Maserati US Open semifinals.
LECHUZA CARACAS 12, COCA-COLA 7
The feature match of the day was anti-climactic after the high-scoring shootout between Crab Orchard and Audi as Lechuza Caracas rolled over Coca-Cola 12-7 in a game in which they never trailed.
Lechuza Caracas scored the first two goals of the game with 10-goaler Jun Martin Nero scoring a goal from the field at 5:15 of the first chukker, 1-0. Teammate Nico Pieres made it 2-0 on a 60-yard penalty conversion. Coca-Cola responded with a penalty goal of their won from Facundo Pieres, 2-1. Pieres scored his second goal of the chukker on a 40-yard penalty shot, 3-1, followed by a goal from the field from team captain Victor Vargas with 48 seconds on the clock for a 4-1 lead.
Coca-Cola cut into the three goals lead with a pair of penalty goals from Obregon in the second, 4-3. Nero gave Lechuza Caracas a two goal lead, scoring in the final 32 seconds of the period for the 5-3 advantage.
Obregon’s fourth goal of the game came midway through the third chukker and had Coca-Cola to within a goal of the lead, 5-4, but that would be as close as they would get. Pieres converted a 60-yard penalty shot 30 seconds later, 6-4, and added a goal from the field at the 1:19 mark. The first half ended with Lechuza Caracas on top of a 7-4 score, with Obregon accounting for all four of the Coca-Cola goals.
Coca-Cola team captain Gillian Johnston raced down the field in the opening minute of the fourth chukker to cut the Lechuza Caracas lead back to two goals with her first score of the game, 7-5. Pieres scored from the field at 5:31, 8-5, and Sebastian Merlos converted a 60-yard penalty shot for a goal with 3:53 left in the period, 8-6.With 16 seconds remaining in the fourth chukker, Pieres scored on another penalty shot for a goal and a 9-6 lead.
Lechuza Caracas shut down the Coca-Cola attack in the fifth and added two more goals of their own. Pieres converted a 40-yard penalty shot for a goal in the opening minute of the period and added a goal from the field midway through the chukker to lead by five goals, 11-6, with one period left to play.
Goals were scarce in the sixth, with Coca-Cola getting on the scoreboard first on a penalty goal from Obregon, 11-7, with only 3:03 left in regulation time. A determined defensive effort by Lechuza Caracas was assisted with a closing goal from the field from Pieres (23 seconds left in the game) for the 12-7 victory.
Pieres was credited with eight goals for Lechuza Caracas (five on penalty conversions). Nero scored twice and Vargas and Espain added single goals in the win. Obregon led the Coca-Cola attack with four goals. Merlos scored twice and Johnston scored a goal in the loss.
Nico Espain was named MVP while Sebastian Merlos’s Jezebel received Best Playing Pony honors.
The win places Lechuza Caracas into Wednesday’s 1PM Maserati US Open semifinal game against Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, Sapo Caset and Adolfo Cambiaso).