Colorado Victory Sets Up Shootout for Final Spot in USPA Gold Cup Semi-Finals
The final two games of group play in the 2018 USPA Gold Cup at the International Polo Club Palm Beach saw Flexjet defeat The Daily Racing Form-DRF Bets (DRF) 10-9, while Colorado defeated Audi 11-10, setting up a shoot-out with Tonkawa to decide the final spot in Wednesday’s semi-final.
The opening game of the day featured a tightly fought match that was close throughout as Flexjet took advantage of DRF’s 19 fouls in the game to score four penalty goals in the second half to edge out the one-goal victory. The ability of Gonzalito Pieres to bait the DRF team into committing numerous fouls was a constant factor along with Nico Pieres dominating the throw-in line to break way for quick offense for Flexjet. Despite shooting just 4 for 13 (31%) in the game, Flexjet’s missed shots forced DRF into plenty of set pieces where they struggled, losing possession to Flexjet more often than not, contributing to the narrow one-goal defeat.
After an even first chukka, DRF took control of the game, converting three of four shot attempts in the second chukka, led by two goals from Agustin Obregon as DRF controlled the open play battle. Flexjet’s only offense in the opening two chukkas came from the penalty line as they remained within two goals without scoring a field goal. That changed in the third chukka as Flexjet pressured DRF relentlessly in the chukka, shooting at goal seven times, converting three to restore the tie score. The duo of Gonzalito and Nico Pieres were effective for Flexjet in their possession game, cuasing DRF into difficult positions defensively.
The story of the second half was the ability of DRF to create more chances from the field, but their inability to stop fouling the Flexjet attack prevented them from pulling away. Provided with two penalty attempts in each of the final three chukkas, Flexjet converted four of those attempts while Rodrigo Andrade scored their lone field goal in the second half. Although Hilario was dangerous on the DRF attack, the foul trouble proved too much late in the game as Flexjet held on for the one goal victory to hand DRF their first loss of the USPA Gold Cup and join them in the semi-finals.
The feature game on the Engel & Volkers Field saw a match-up between the two winless teams remaining, with the winner setting up a shoot-out against Tonkawa and the loser eliminated from the tournament. Audi was able to build their attack in the game, shooting at goal 18 times but their inaccuracy around goal kept them from taking advantage of Colorado’s fouls in the game. Held without a penalty shot in the game, Diego Cavanagh was slowed below his normal goal production but used strong set plays and a five-goal performance from Magoo Laprida to keep pace with Audi in the game. Filling in for Juan Britos, Tomas Garcia del Rio stepped in seamlessly on his new team providing a very good defensive effort while making the game winning goal from 80+ yards out to seal the victory.
In a very quick game that end-to-end attacks, Colorado took their one-goal advantage on handicap and increased it to two by the end of the first chukka with Laprida scoring both goals for his team. After Colorado extended that lead further behind perfect 2 for 2 shooting in the second chukka, Audi bounced back in the third chukka, scoring four goals, two each from Nic Roldan and Polito Pieres to reduce the deficit to just one goal at halftime. Constantly pressured by multiple Colorado defenders, Audi struggled to generate easy scoring chances often attacking goal under immense pressure.
The inability to convert their chances hurt Audi in the second half as they made just two of their nine shot attempts allowing Colorado to stay tied in the game. A hard fought battle came down to the final seconds as Garcia del Rio made an incredible penalty 5 from over 80 yards away to end the game and give Colorado the exciting one-goal victory.