Crab Orchard Edges Audi, 13-12, In Maserati U.S. Open Quarterfinals
Rodrigo Andrade of Audi and Facundo Pieres of Crab Orchard in a horse race to the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher
WELLINGTON, FL-April 13, 2014
Audi saw its title run end in the quarterfinals of the 110th Maserati U.S. Open Sunday at International Polo Club.The 2009 U.S. Open champion and two-time runner-up was defeated by Crab Orchard, 13-12, in a hardfought quarterfinal game.Playing inspired polo, Audi gave Crab Orchard everything it could handle throughout the game including one last scoring attempt that would have tied the game in the final seconds but sailed wide.
Gonzalito Pieres of Audi works the ball out of the air with Magoo LaPrida of Crab Orchard defending. Photo by Scott Fisher
In a physical game that featured three player spills and two injuries, Audi (Marc Ganzi, Gonzalo del Tour, Gonzalito Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade) and its pressure defense kept Crab Orchard (Peke Gonzalez, Magoo LaPrida, Facundo Pieres, Paco de Narvaez) within striking distance for most of the game.Argentine 10-goaler Facundo Pieres, pitted against his brother and fellow 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres, scored eight goals including the game-winner with 2:30 left when he took the throw-in and outraced his defender. His older brother had eight goals for Audi.
Magoo LaPrida of Crab Orchard hits the ball in the air with Audi's Gonzalito Pieres defending. Photo by Scott Fisher
The teams exchanged 3-1 chukkers in the opening two chukkers. Ganzi, Pieres and del Tour scored in the second chukker to tie the game at 4-4.A seesaw battle continued with Crab Orchard leading 7-6 after the third chukker. Andrade's goal at the 5:02 mark tied the game at 8-8 in the fourth chukker. Each team had a chance to break the tie but squandered scoring opportunities.Crab Orchard took a 10-8 lead in the fifth chukker but back-to-back goals by Pieres, one from a del Tour back shot pass, and the other on a penalty shot, tied the game 10-10 with 34 seconds left in the fifth chukker.The dogfight continued in the final chukker with Audi tying the game twice, 11-11 and 12-12 before Pieres took a throw-in and raced downfield for what turned out to be the winning goal with 2:30 remaining.
Brothers Facundo Pieres of Crab Orchard and Gonzalito Pieres of Audi race after the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher
Audi had one final opportunity to score after it was awarded a penalty five from the spot but an angle neck shot from about 90 yards out sailed wide to end the game."To be honest I was a little bit worried before this game because we haven't been very consistent," said Facundo Pieres, a member of Audi's 2009 U.S. Open champion team. "Audi is a good team. I know them a lot. They had their ups and downs but I was always thinking they were going to have their ups against us. I know when they play good, they play really well. Both teams tried to do everything they could."
Gonzalo del Tour of Audi scores one of his two first-half goals with Paco de Narvaez of Crab Orchard defending. Photo by Scott Fisher
With a semifinal berth riding on the game, both teams were physical. Audi team captain Marc Ganzi was hit in the right elbow before the game even started. Late in the first chukker Magoo LaPrida was hit in the right arm with a horse bridle and got lightheaded before returning to the game."I felt like I wanted to faint, I was in a lot of pain in the beginning," LaPrida said. "You always expect a close game against every team. Audi is a great team with great players. Any day they have a good day they are really dangerous so we knew it was going to be tough."Audi's Gonzalo del Tour, battling for the ball, was knocked off his horse twice in the third chukker and again in the sixth chukker defending Pieres before colliding with the goal post. Teammate Rodrigo Andrade was leaning off his horse when he got hit in the face by his horse's head while trying to gain possession of the ball and tumbled off."Thankfully it was nothing bad and we are still standing," Pieres said.
Gonzalito Pieres of Audi working the ball away from defender Magoo LaPrida of Crab Orchard. Photo by Scott Fisher
"Audi is a great team but I felt we were playing better and better," said Crab Orchard George Rawlings, whose team is playing its final high goal polo tournament. "I was hoping for a little more spread in the game. This was an emotional game for me. Every game could be our last game since we are getting out of polo."Del Tour added two goals for Audi and Ganzi and Rodrigo Andrade each had one.In the second quarterfinal game, Lechuza Caracas defeated Coca-Cola, 12-7.In Wednesday's semifinals, Valiente plays Lechuza Caracas at 1 p.m. and Crab Orchard plays Alegria at 4 p.m. The winners advance into the final on Easter Sunday at 3 p.m. in the winter season-finale.
Audi's Rodrigo Andrade keeping possession of the ball despite pressure from Magoo LaPrida of Crab Orchard. Photo by Scott Fisher
Audi team captain Marc Ganzi and Paco de Narvaez of Crab Orchard have a light moment before the game. Photo by Scott Fisher
2014 SEASONTUESDAY: Hall of Fame Cup final, 10 a.m.; WEDNESDAY: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Semifinals, Valiente vs. Lechuza Caracas, 1 p.m.; Alegria vs. Crab Orchard; THURSDAY: Jimmer Newman Junior Championship, 5 p.m.; FRIDAY: George Oliver Junior Championship, 5 p.m.; EASTER SUNDAY: U.S. Open final, 3 p.m.GRAND CHAMPIONS AT PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)APRIL: USPA National President's Cup 8-Goal; Las Acacias (5-goal); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goal); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16-goal).USPA NATIONAL PRESIDENT'S CUP 8-GOALTUESDAY: Goose Creek vs. Casablanca, 4 p.m.; SATURDAY: FINAL, Grand Champions at PB Polo, Field 2, 3 p.m.LAS ACACIAS CUP 5-GOALSATURDAY: Championship final, 10 a.m.; Handicap Final, 11:30 a.m.GRAND CHAMPIONS 2014 SPRING SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)APRIL 17-19: Grand Champions CupAPRIL 24-27: The USPA Spring ChallengeMAY 1-4: The USPA Sun CupMAY 8-11: The USPA Eastern ChallengeMAY 15-18: The Polo Gear Challenge CupMAY 22-26: The MemorialGRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUBWHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Flight Options. Everyone is welcome to watch high, medium and low goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the winter, spring and fall tournament season and other special events including International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, ProKidz Tournaments in the spring and fall, Women's Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.
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