By Alex Webbe
Audi (Marc Ganzi, Gonzalo Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade and Fred Mannix) trailed early in Saturday morning’s quarterfinal of the 26-gaol C. V. Whitney Cup, falling behind a talented Coca-Cola lineup (Gillian Johnston, Sugar Erskine, Julio Arellano and Miguel Astrada), 5-2 before roaring back with a strong second half that carried them to a 9-7 win and a berth in Wednesday’s tournament semifinal against White Birch (Hilario Ulloa, Ezequiel Ferrario, Mariano Aguerre and Peter Brant).
Gonzalito Pieres scored the first goal of the game in the opening minute of play to give Audi a 1-0 lead. Scoring opportunities were missed by both sides until Sugar Erskine got Coca-Cola on the scoreboard with a goal from the field to end the chukker at 1-1.
Audi team captain Marc Ganzi made it 2-1 at 6:14 of the second chukker when the Coca-Cola stirred. Following a couple of unsuccessful attacks on the Audi goal, Erskine scored consecutive goals to end the second period with Coca-Cola in front, 3-2.
Coca-Cola continued to press the attack in the third chukker with Erskine scoring his fourth goal of the game in the opening minute, 4-2. Audi continued to struggle with its offense and was unable to score. Julio Arellano scored the final goal of the first half on a 60-yard penalty conversion that gave Coca-Cola the 5-2 advantage at the midway point.
A refocused Audi team took the field in the fourth chukker and attempted to make up for the mishaps and missed scoring opportunities in the first half of play. Pieres opened with a goal from the field followed by Ganzi’s second goal of the game, cutting the Coca-Cola lead to a single goal, 5-4. Coca-Cola struggle, unsuccessfully to break through the Audi defenses, but to no avail. A Coca-Cola foul in the final minute of the chukker sent Pieres to the penalty lien where he converted the 30-yard shot for the tying goal, ending the period all even at 5-5.
The Audi onslaught continued into the fifth chukker. Pieres converted two penalty shots for goals in the opening minutes of the period as Audi moved ahead of Coca-Cola, 7-5. A final goal from the field from Pieres was complimented by a second consecutive shutout defensive performance and Audi left the field on the winning end of an 8-5 score.
Audi kept Coca-Cola from scoring for the opening minutes of the sixth chukker, but with 4:45 left in regulation play, Arellano scored on a 60-yard penalty shot, 8-6. Pieres responded with a 60-yard penalty conversion of his own less than a minute later to restore the three goal lead, 9-6. Coca-Cola continued to press the attack, but a resolute Audi defense held. Coca-Cola team captain Gillian Johnston managed to break through and put a final goal on the scoreboard with a minutes left in the game, but that would be where it would end. The final horn sounded and Audi celebrated the 9-7 victory and a date to meet White Birch at 4pm in Wednesday’s C. V. Whitney Cup semifinal following the 1pm semifinal between Orchard Hill (Polito Pieres, Julian De Lussareta, Facundo Pieres and Steve Van Andel) and Lucchese (John Muse, Magoo Laprida, Nico Pieres and Sapo Caset).
Pieres led the field with seven goals (four on penalty conversions) and Ganzi added wo goals from the field for the victory. Erskine’s four goals set the pace for Coca-Cola. Arellano added two penalty goals and Johnston scored a goal from the field in the loss.