The conclusion to the delayed 2020 edition of the USPA Gold Cup was finally held, nearly a year later, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach when La Indiana emerged as the champions on Sunday, Feb. 14 with a 14-9 victory over Daily Racing Form. A balanced team performance was led by five goals from Polito Pieres, helping La Indiana etch their name on the coveted USPA Gold Cup trophy and claim the $100,000 prize to officially conclude the 2020 season.
After narrowly defeating the 2019 Gauntlet of Polo champion Pilot for the second time in the semifinal, La Indiana had their sights set on the title and produced a dominant performance against Daily Racing Form. Conceding only one goal in the first half, La Indiana scored a stretch of nine unanswered goals by controlling possession and keeping Daily Racing Form pinned in their own half.
Youngsters Nico Escobar and Juan Cruz Marcos led the La Indiana team at the front of the game, combining for six goals as part of an efficient offense, while Daily Racing Form was limited to just four field goals throughout the game. Finding redemption from his 2019 defeat in the final with Aspen, Pieres led the way offensively throughout the tournament, capping off his performance with five goals in La Indiana’s victory.
With Marcos’ recent increase to a three-goal handicap, Daily Racing Form began the game with a one-goal advantage that quickly increased to two on a penalty conversion from Jared Zenni. Foul trouble hindered La Indiana in the early stages of the game, but after re-organizing in the final stages of the first chukker, La Indiana dominated the remainder of the half. The second chukker set the tone for La Indiana as they outscored Daily Racing Form 5-0, with Pieres converting both of his penalty attempts while also adding a goal from the field. Held without a shot attempt, Daily Racing Form remained a step behind with La Indiana continuing to build a lead. In a well-rounded attack, La Indiana saw all four players find the scoresheet after Jeff Hall added two goals in the third chukker. La Indiana’s defense was nearly impenetrable as Daily Racing Form failed to score a goal from the field and were left facing a 9-2 deficit at halftime.
Daily Racing Form emerged out of the halftime break displaying some urgency as they sought to narrow the gap. From the back of the game, accurate passing from Tommy Collingwood set up two goals for Daily Racing Form as they finally broke through from the field on two goals from Costi Caset and one from Zenni. Scoring five of the first six goals to begin the second half, Daily Racing Form quickly turned a seven-goal difference to just three as the momentum of the game changed. With plenty of time remaining in the fifth chukker, La Indiana responded with the team-based attack that ultimately proved to be the difference. One goal from each of the four La Indiana players brought their lead back to seven with one chukker remaining. With a focus on managing the lead, La Indiana sat back to protect against open runs to goal, watching time tick down until the final horn sounded on their impressive 14-9 victory.
Hall was awarded Most Valuable Player, while Best Playing Pony was given to Machitos Pangea, played by Polito Pieres.
The 2021 C.V. Whitney Cup is now underway at the IPC. Online viewing is available at www.globalpolo.com. For more info., visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.