Coca-Cola ousts tournament favorite Orchard Hill 11-10
Orchard Hill suffered a disappointing 11-10 defeat to an outstanding Coca-Cola team in the first Ylvisaker Cup Semifinal at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Firing on all cylinders, Coca-Cola took an early 3-2 lead in the first chukker with a standout performance from Julio Arellano resulting in three goals. Coca-Cola continued their momentum throughout the second and third chukkers, showcasing incredible teamwork. Orchard Hill maintained a respectable gap throughout the game, however their lack of dominance compared to previous Ylvisaker Cup matches left them trailing by three at the half 8-5.
A missed penalty opportunity at the opening of the second half did not bode well for Orchard Hillbut Facundo Pieres was able to redeem himself with a penalty 2 conversion following another goal from Arellano. With a 9-6 score moving into the fifth, Del Walton’s substitute and Team USPA member Wes Finlayson scored the only goal of the chukker to widen Coca-Cola’s lead to 4 goals. When asked about the last minute substitution of Wesley Finlayson, Julio Arellano answered, “You hope for the best, you don’t know how he’s going to fit into the team with the horses and everything and I have to be honest, he’s definitely beyond my expectations. Fabulous, he’s been a pleasure to have on board.”
Polo fans were rewarded in the final chukker with an excellent comeback rally by Orchard Hill. Pieres began with a penalty conversion to close the gap 10-7 which was quickly answered by Arellano. At the two-minute mark, Pieres’ horse fell resulting in an injury and subsequent substitution. Polito Pieres entered the game with unparalleled determination, scoring two immediate goals for Orchard Hill. Now within two 11-9, Nico Escobar followed with another field goal for Orchard Hill. It was too little too late from the tournament favorite, and their valiant effort was cut short as the thirty-second horn sounded to end regulation play. Edging past Orchard Hill, Coca-Cola secured the first spot in the Ylvisaker Cup Final with a closing score 11-10.
Tonkawa Prevails 13-12 over Postage Stamp Farm
After an upsetting semifinal defeat in the Joe Barry Memorial, Tonkawa arrived at the field determined for victory. Despite a sizeable loss to Postage Stamp Farm earlier in Ylvisaker Cup bracket play, Tonkawa took on an almost entirely new Postage Stamp Farm team due to injury substitutions. Mariano Aguerre, the only original Postage Stamp Farm member, along with three young guns (Timmy Dutta, Jota Chavanne, Juan Martin Zubia) hassled the Tonkawa team in a thrilling and evenly matched back-and-forth six chukkers of play. Tonkawa came out strong right out of the gate with three consecutive goals. “Yeah it was really hard because they had two substitutes,” said Sapo Caset, “we didn’t know exactly how they were going to line up. They were playing really well before with Kris and Annabelle, but I think we jumped into the game quick and had a good first chukker.” Postage Stamp Farm answered with three of their own to tie the score at the beginning of the second chukker. The teams would remain neck and neck during first half play, however penalty conversions from Sapo Caset would give Tonkawa the edge and lead 7-6 at the end of the third.
The tables would turn in the fourth and fifth chukkers as Zubia (substituting for Kris Kampsen) hammered in the penalty conversions for Postage Stamp Farm to tie the score 10-all. Aguerre finished off the chukker with another goal and Postage Stamp Farm captured the lead for the first time 11-10 moving into the sixth chukker. Fouling ultimately led to the Postage Stamp Farm defeat as Sapo Caset coolly and competently converted two penalties to take back the lead 12-11. Aguerre tied the score once again, but a Postage Stamp Farm foul and yellow card with two minutes remaining in regulation time resulted in an open goal penalty for Tonkawa. Sapo Caset put his eighth penalty shot through the uprights to gain a one goal advantage 13-12. Postage Stamp Farm missed a prime goal opportunity from the field in the last minute of play and Tonkawa narrowly grasped the victory 13-12.
“Today we are going to celebrate and tomorrow we will work on our strategy.
The game is all about horses. We will practice and maybe give them a slow chukker, and a day off, but they are ready to go to the final.” -Sapo Caset.
The Ylvisaker Cup Final will be played Sunday, February 19 at 3:00pm ET at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. The USPA Polo Network will livestream the Ylvisaker Cup Final on uspolo.org.