An action-packed start to the third round of the 2020 USPA Gold Cup featured three games on Sunday, March 8 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. There were upsets in each game, including Dutta Corp handing Las Monjitas its first loss of the season with an impressive 20-11 victory. Santa Clara defeated C.V. Whitney Cup finalist La Indiana 10-7, while Equuleus narrowly edged Coca-Cola 8-7 for its first tournament victory.
The opening game featured a stunning performance from Dutta Corp, which produced the highest goal total of the season thus far with 20 goals against previously undefeated Las Monjitas. Dutta Corp was efficient from both the field and the penalty line, in what proved to be a foul-ridden game. Limiting Las Monjitas’ opportunities from the field, Dutta Corp completed the dominant 20-11 victory.
Eight fouls in the opening two chukkers from Las Monjitas resulted in five penalty goals for the duo of Facundo and Mariano Obregon as Dutta Corp raced out to a large lead. Conceding possession, Las Monjitas was kept off the scoreboard, while Dutta Corp produced six goals, receiving at least one goal from each player, for a quick 6-0 lead.
After a Penalty 2 conversion from Francisco Elizalde, Dutta Corp went on another goal run, scoring four unanswered goals, three from Mariano Obregon, to finish the second chukker with a 10-1 lead. Playing at a lightning-quick pace, Dutta Corp overwhelmed Las Monjitas across the entire field and took advantage of each opportunity.
Entering the game as the lone undefeated team, Las Monjitas was stunned by Dutta Corp’s relentless attack that continued to extend the lead. The umpire’s whistle slowed play in the second half, as scoring turned to the penalty line, with Facundo Obregon adding two more penalty goals. Finishing the fourth chukker and still yet to score from the field, a frustrated Las Monjitas side was left facing an insurmountable 16-4 deficit with two chukkers remaining. Sitting back defensively over the final two chukkers, Dutta Corp finally conceded their first field goal to Bautista Panelo, who replaced an injured Mackenzie Weisz, but Dutta Corp cruised to the convincing 20-11 victory, improving to 3-0 in the tournament.
The second game of the day featured 2-0 La Indiana against 1-1 Santa Clara, but it was Santa Clara that controlled play throughout the match. Five goals each from Ignatius Du Plessis and Polito Pieres led their respective teams, but it was an organized defense from Santa Clara, holding La Indiana to 3-for-10 shooting from the field, that proved to be the difference in the victory.
Luis Escobar opened the scoring for Santa Clara, but a Penalty 3 conversion from Pieres, along with a field goal from Jeff Hall, gave La Indiana an early 2-1 lead. In one of the most decisive chukkers of the match, Santa Clara produced four goals in quick succession, led by two from Du Plessis and an impressive goal from Henry Porter to race into a 5-2 advantage on the scoreboard. Fouls from Santa Clara slowed the momentum to finish the half, but the team maintained a three-goal lead heading into halftime.
Focused on making a comeback, La Indiana fought to create chances at goal, but Santa Clara’s strong defense made shot attempts difficult. Converting just one of their first six shot attempts, La Indiana saw the deficit grow to four with Du Plessis pacing the Santa Clara attack. The duo of Pieres and Hall combined for three goals, as La Indiana found their footing in the fifth chukker, pulling within two goals as excitement rose around the field in a potential comeback. A clutch Penalty 4 conversion from Du Plessis to begin the final chukker gave Santa Clara a commanding three-goal lead, which they didn’t give up, capturing the 10-7 victory, matching La Indiana’s 2-1 record atop Bracket I.
The final game of the day, played on U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1, displayed a defensive battle between Coca-Cola and Equuleus that came down to the final second on a penalty conversion from Mariano Gonzalez. Despite inaccurate shooting from the field and the penalty line, Equuleus outshot Coca-Cola 17-10, with the extra attempts leading to the narrow victory.
A back-and-forth start to the game resulted in the two teams trading goals, deadlocked at 2-2 after the first chukker. The duo of Inaki and Magoo Laprida combined for a three-goal run that gave Equuleus control of the game, but before the end of the half, Coca-Cola responded with back-to-back goals from Nico Pieres and Julian de Lusarreta.
Defense highlighted the second half of the featured game, leaving the teams within one goal of each other over the final three chukkers. Steve Krueger’s second goal of the game tied the score at 5-5, but scoring was hard to come by for the remainder of the match, with five of the final six goals coming from the penalty line.
Penalty goals from Gonzalez and Pieres sent the outcome into the final chukker, as spectators were treated to a close finish. Drawing a foul in the final seconds, Equuleus had a Penalty 2 attempt for the victory as time was expiring, and Gonzalez converted the chance, sending Equuleus to the thrilling 8-7 win. Magoo Laprida captured MVP honors, while his mare Nike was named the Best Playing Pony.