Play Begins in 2018 USPA Gold Cup With Two Final Second Victories
The penultimate tournament in 26-goal play at the International Polo Club Palm Beach began with two exciting matches, one needing overtime and then other decided in the final minute as The Daily Racing Form-DRF Bets (DRF) and Tonkawa were victorious.
The first game saw a defensive battle that required overtime with DRF ultimately outlasting Colorado 7-6. A physical, foul ridden game saw plenty of opportunities for both teams, from the penalty line and the field, yet uncharacteristic misses kept the low-scoring game close throughout. Shooting just 2 for 9 (22%), Colorado was unable to find the offensive spark that led to back-to-back finals in the previous two tournaments, including a combined zero field goals from the duo of Diego Cavanagh and Juan Britos. Despite converting only 2 of their 7 penalty attempts, DRF overcame the poor penalty shooting to create more opportunities in the game, led by the work of Mariano Obregon, who finished with two goals including the overtime winner.
Due to the combined 28 fouls, the game was a stop and start affair with neither team able to break away for consistent runs. Both teams scored one penalty goal in the opening half, but it was DRF that was able to score an additional field goal to make up Colorado’s goal on handicap, resulting in 3-3 lead at halftime. DRF was able to control possession throughout the second half as Colorado was held to just two shots in the final three chukkas. After a scoreless fourth chukka, DRF finally found an offensive rhythm behind their strong defence, leading to two field goals, one each from Hilario Ulloa and Agustin Obregon. Colorado responded in the sixth chukka with Britos converting a penalty 2 and Magoo Laprida scoring his second goal of the game, sending the closely fought game into overtime. Committing two fouls in overtime, DRF was on the defensive early but after protecting their own goal, Mariano Obregon found space to goal, converting the run to give his team an opening win in the USPA Gold Cup.
The second game saw Tonkawa make their debut in 26-goal play and in a similar form to the opening game, both teams committed numerous fouls, combining for 29 fouls in the game. Beginning with two goals on handicap, Audi was able to hold on to their lead throughout the first half, with both teams missing their opportunities around goal and failing to put a string of goals together. Despite missing all four shot attempts in the second chukka, Audi restored their two goal lead with Roldan converting his first penalty of the day. Sapo Caset took the offense into his own hands in the third chukka scoring all of Tonkawa’s three goals to bring his team within one goal, trailing 6-5 at halftime.
The second half slowed early with five combined fouls in the fourth chukka resulting in a penalty goal for each team, but it was Tonkawa that began to find their rhythm in open play adding two goals, one of which coming off the mallet of patron Jeff Hildebrand to give Tonkawa their first lead after a chukka at 8-7. Tonkawa maintained their lead until late in the game, with both teams missing shot opportunities in front of goal until just three minutes remained in the game. A scary fall from Tonkawa’s newest player Mariano Aguerre required a substitute as Joaquin Panelo stepped in for the final minutes as it was Caset that converted a penalty 2 to seal the 10-9 victory for his team.