US Open Polo Semifinal 2016
On this Wednesday April 20th morning the sky was unsettling, as if to mirror the feelings of unnerving excitement for the two battles to be fought on the grounds of the International Polo Club Palm Beach for the Semifinal of the 112th US Open Polo Championship.
Polo fans gathered from all corners of the world (and I can say this with certainty as just my little squad span nationalities from Brazilian, to French and all the way down under to Australian) to watch the game live and even more people across mountains and oceans tuned in to watch the games live on ChukkerTV.
First up was a match between almighty and undefeated Dubai (Rashid Albwardy, Alejo Taranco, Facundo Sola and Adolfo Cambiaso) against Audi (Marc Ganzi, Rodrigo Andrade, Gonzalito Pieres and Freddie Mannix), who have fought hard in this tournament, defeating Dubai’s “brother team” Valiente, last Sunday and thus making it on to this defining moment. With an extra match in their roster both players and ponies had exerted more efforts in the past week than their opponent Dubai, which although being a new and young team in the US, already knew each other from seasons of polo in the UK and Dubai.
The ball was thrown and the game was on, Dubai took the lead as we knew they would, but Audi showed some muscle as well and were catching up by halftime. They fought a brave fight till the very end, but Dubai proved once again that they were the best and secured their spot in the final on Sunday with a 13-11 score. Team mates, friends and family greeted them with joy in the tent.
Between matches we went to the most yummy and healthy of places for lunch, Bolay! and then a little goofiness at La Martina, just because.
The second match was White Birch (Mariano Oregon, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Peter Brant) against Orchard Hill (Steve Van Andel, Facundo Pieres, Julian ‘Negro’ de Lussareta and Juan Martin Nero). The first half showed a very strong Orchard Hill, scoring goals left and right and not letting the White Birch boys get through too often. Just as we thought we were safe White Birch refocused and took the lead in the end of the 5th chukker.
The 6th chukker was the biggest suspense of the US Open, with Facundo Pieres scoring a goal with only 40 seconds left of regulation time and taking them in to overtime.
The extra chukker was as tough as the ones before, with both teams ping-pong’ing from side to side making all of us on the sidelines and near the player tents feel like we were sitting on pins and needles. Finally four minutes in to the 7th chukker White Birch committed a foul and Orchard Hill was awarded a penalty shot from the 30-yard line. Once Pieres had changed on to his third horse in that chukker he swiftly put the ball between the goal posts and we could all (players and spectators) breathe again and cheer joyfully.
Apologies for my camera-filming skills. It’s hard to focus on getting a good selfie video, whilst talking to the person 🙂
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