• George Haas Cup

    Audi Captures George Haas Cup; Nico Pieres Named Most Valuable Player

    Audi took control of Travieso early for an impressive 14-9 victory Sunday in the George Haas Cup final at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
    By Sharon Robb
    Audi (Grant Ganzi, 2, Marc Ganzi, 2, Nico Pieres, 8, Nic Roldan, 8) led 6-4 at the half, held off a brief fourth-chukker rally and pulled away with two strong chukkers against Travieso (Mackie Weisz, 1, Tony Calle, 3, Sebastian Merlos, 9, Tomas Garcia del Rio, 7).

    George Haas Cup champion Audi's Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Nico Pieres and Marc Ganzi with Sally Haas.

    Marc and Grant Ganzi became the first father and son to win a high goal tournament in the club's history when Audi captured the subsidiary final. It was also Grant Ganzi's second George Haas Cup, after winning with Audi at age 15.

    "This one is the best win by far because I won the trophy with my dad at the same time and this was a much tougher team we played," said Ganzi, a sophomore at Lynn University. "It's a great win and good team victory.

    George Haas Cup finalists Audi and Travieso with awards presenter Sally Haas.

    "It's huge my Dad and I won it together," Ganzi said. "It sits on the trophy for life. People will look back, my dad will look back and I will look back and see that there are two Ganzis on the same trophy plate and no one can take that away from us."

    Pieres and Roldan provided the one-two punch that frustrated Travieso for most of the game and held top scorer Merlos to three goals.

    Grant Ganzi of Audi hooking Tony Calle's goal attempt.

    "We were a new team entering this tournament," Roldan said. "We were always a good team, we just needed to get a little bit of a system going and our last two games we did that. Marc scored a couple of great goals, Grant had some really important defensive plays and Nico had a hell of a game. Nico was amazing and definitely deserved MVP. Everyone played well and the horses felt good."
     
    Pieres, the youngest of three playing brothers, was named Most Valuable Player and Flor, ridden by Del Rio, was Best Playing Pony.

    Nico Pieres receiving his MVP award from Sally Haas.

    "It was a good game against a team that was good," Pieres said. "We were happy that we won a tournament with this team. We started good and the second half we played an amazing game in the fifth and sixth. We need to focus and play like this."

    Roldan scored a game-high seven goals including four penalty conversions. Pieres and Marc Ganzi each scored three and Grant Ganzi added one. Del Rio was leading scorer for Travieso with four.

    MVP Nico Pieres of Audi working the nearside shot away from Sebastian Merlos of Travieso.

    "For us in terms of confidence this was an amazing win," Roldan said. "It's good to go into a new tournament with a couple wins under your belt." Grant Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Pieres and Roldan will compete in this week's 26-goal C.V. Whitney Cup.

    Audi jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind Roldan and Pieres and extended it to 4-2 in the second with two more goals from the two 8-goal rated pros. Audi kept its two-goal lead for a 6-4 halftime advantage behind Marc Ganzi and Roldan goals.

    Nic Roldan of Audi driving downfield with Tony Calle of Travieso defending.

    Travieso came out and quickly grabbed the momentum taking advantage of Audi turnovers for a 3-1 fourth chukker. Audi regained its composure and returned to its game plan in the final two chukkers for strong 3-1 and 4-1 chukkers.

    "We started off well and then the fourth chukker was not very good," Grant Ganzi said. "The fifth and sixth we stepped it up. The majority of this game the good team came out. It was the team that played for each other and worked for each other."

    Marc Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Nic Roldan and Grant Ganzi enjoying the victory ride to the awards podium.

    At 15, Weisz, who substituted for team sponsor Teo Calle, was the youngest player on the field.

    The last time Audi won the George Haas Cup in 2014. At 15, Grant Ganzi was making his George Haas Cup debut with teammates Nic Roldan, Fred Mannix and Lucas Lalor and defeated Faraway, 11-9. Marc Ganzi helped Audi qualify with a semifinal win over Tonkawa and sat out the final to enable his son to play.

    Nico Pieres of Audi goes for the big hit downfield.
    Also on Sunday in the Ylvisaker Cup, Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Bautista Panelo, Santi Torres, Adolfo Cambiaso) defeated GSA (Henry Porter, Dylan Rossiter, Mariano Gonzalez, Matias Magrini), 8-6, to win its first title after being rained out and disqualified in its first two attempts to win it. Cambiaso finished with six goals and was named Most Valuable Player. Macarena, owned and ridden by Mariano Gonzalez, was selected Best Playing Pony. 

    George Haas was an American businessman and polo player. He won the East Coast Open three times, Monty Waterbury Cup three times and Arena Sherman Memorial. He served as president of the Gulfstream Polo Club, chairman of the Polo Training Foundation, member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of International Polo, chairman of  USPA's Safety and International Committee and board member of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002 and died in 2006.

    Nic Roldan of Audi with the nearside shot as teammate Marc Ganzi defends Tony Calle of Travieso.

    Haas was also a highly decorated Army officer veteran from World War II. George received the Silver Star, Air Medal and Purple Heart during his service as an aerial observer for artillery.  Duty as an aerial observer for artillery was extremely dangerous. Haas was severely wounded when his observation aircraft was shot down by the Germans. He was captured by the Germans but made an extremely daring escape from them several months later after his wounds had healed.   

    In 1994, Haas participated on the U.S. military polo team that current Armed Forces Committee Vice Chairman Mark Gillespie  captained which traveled to France and England to play in matches commemorating the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. While in Deauville, Haas was presented with a "Key to the City of Deauville" by the mayor. He also played on the Army team against the Navy in matches organized at Gulf Stream Polo Club in the 1990s. 

    Rated No. 1 by Consumer Reports as the best auto brand overall, Audi is a valued sponsor with a rich winning tradition in polo. The German automobile manufacturer designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles throughout the world. Audi, founded in 1909, oversees its worldwide operations from its headquarters in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany and local distributorship in West Palm Beach.

    Nico Pieres of Audi hits the neck shot past Sebastian Merlos of Travieso. Photos by Chiarofoto