The 2019 USPA Gold Cup was in full swing on Sunday, March 3 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Spectators on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1 were treated to an exciting match resulting in a 14-12 victory for Tonkawa over Park Place. Earlier in the day, Aspen defeated La Indiana 11-9.
The featured game provided a thrilling finish after Tonkawa built a large lead, only to see Park Place fight its way back in the final chukker. Led by a seven-goal performance from Sapo Caset, Tonkawa used efficient shooting throughout the game, while Park Place struggled to convert their opportunities, making just two of seven shots over the first four chukkers. Tonkawa generated a consistent attack in part due to accurate passing that kept possession. Nico Pieres almost single-handedly brought Park Place back into the game with five goals over the final two chukkers.
The game began at a slow pace due to six fouls in the first chukker against Park Place. Provided with the opportunities from the penalty line, Caset took advantage for Tonkawa, shooting a perfect 3-for-3 and giving Tonkawa a 4-0 lead. Park Place quickly re-organized and pressured the Tonkawa defense to receive three penalty attempts of their own in the following chukker, but two missed penalty shots prevented them from closing the deficit. The high-scoring chukker saw both teams score three goals in back-and-forth action, as Tonkawa maintained its lead thanks to an accurate attack. The third chukker saw Caset and Sterling Giannico connect on multiple occasions, resulting in two field goals for Caset and two assists for Giannico, extending Tonkawa’s lead to 9-4 at halftime.
Conceding nine goals in the first half, Park Place needed to slow down the potent Tonkawa offense, but all four players in green were contributing. After claiming two assists in the previous chukker, Giannico scored two goals of his own, leaving Park Place desperate for offense if they were to mount a comeback. Park Place’s Pieres took control of the game in a dominant fifth chukker, scoring three goals to quickly cut the deficit in half. Firing six shots at goal, Pieres was relentless. Andrey Borodin scored his first goal of the game at a crucial time to begin the sixth chukker, placing added pressure on Tonkawa as the lead continued to shrink. Pieres stepped back into the spotlight, scoring two quick goals to complete the comeback and tie the game at 12-12 with just minutes remaining. Unfazed by the comeback, Tonkawa responded with two accurate finishes for back-to-back goals from Agustin Merlos and Caset, holding off Park Place and claiming the 14-12 victory.
The first match of the day featured a controlled victory for Aspen, which never trailed after conceding the first goal of the game. A strong team effort from Aspen on both sides of the ball saw all four players contribute on the scoresheet. After Jeff Hall opened the scoring, Aspen responded with three consecutive goals to end the first chukker. Lucas James and Polito Pieres ignited the Aspen attack throughout the first half, while Tomas Schwencke worked hard off the ball to pressure La Indiana. Held to just four shots, La Indiana trailed 7-4, unable to generate enough scoring opportunities to match Aspen.
The defining moment of the game was the fourth chukker, resulting in Aspen doubling its lead from three to six, leaving La Indiana with a large deficit to overcome. After a quiet first half, Facundo Obregon came alive in the fifth chukker, scoring a goal and adding an assist to cut into the Aspen lead. Obregon added two more goals in the final chukker, but La Indiana were too far behind to catch up, with Pieres’ five goals leading Aspen to the 11-9 victory.