Wellington, FL - January 8, 2015 - In two white-knuckle games Thursday in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), Orchard Hill bested Coca-Cola 10-9 and Lechuza Caracas took Enigma 11-10 in overtime.
Orchard Hill Coca-Cola
Steve Van Andel A Gillian Johnston 2
Lucas Criado 8 Sugar Erskine 6
Facundo Pieres 10 Julio Arellano 8
Remy Du Celliee Muller 2 Mason Wroe 4
Throughout strong, consistent play by both teams in the first game, Julio Arellano of Coca-Cola and Facundo Pieres of Orchard Hill put their stamps on the match from start to finish. The game was punctuated by one rideoff after another between the two, both in the number three position. Pieres scored all but one of his team's 10 goals. Arellano scored four goals for Coca-Cola and teammate Mason Wroe scored three.
Pieres scored the first goal of the day, and Arellano quickly took the next. Chukker two was almost an instant replay, with two more goals by Pieres and one by Arellano. At the end of the second chukker, the score was tied 3-3.
Playing the number two position for Coca-cola, Sugar Erskine made several excellent plays in the third chukker. He hurtled one long shot after another down the field, one of which was picked up on the near side by teammate Mason Wroe. In another play, Erskine snagged the ball a split-second before it was about to pop over the sideboards. He followed that up with what many considered the play of the day, making the ball his own from the far end of the field all the way to the goalposts. He smacked it in, bringing Coca-Cola into the lead, 4-3.
The chukker played out with Pieres in a trademark display of his ball control as he worked the ball on the near side of his horse for an extended stretch. Coca-Cola's Johnston, the only female player in the lineup, gave Pieres a run for his money in a long, hard rideoff. He managed to take the ball and flip it back through the goalposts to score.
At the half, Orchard Hill led 5-4. Then four goals in quick succession by Pieres and one by teammate Steve Van Andel catapulted Orchard Hill into a wide 10-4 lead. Coca-Cola poured it on in the fifth chukker and scored four goals, tightening its gap by just two points behind Orchard Hill.
The tension was palpable in the final chukker, which began with Orchard Hill leading 10-8. In the last three minutes of play Coca-cola came on extra strong, tightening the gap to one point as Arellano swooped in and sent the ball hurtling down the field for a deft pickup by Wroe. After retaking the ball on a breakaway, Arellano scored the last goal of the day.
Pieres said he felt good after the match. He noted that this was the first game Orchard Hill had played in the tournament, while Coca-Cola had already played twice.
That gave Coca-Cola "a bit of an advantage," Pieres said, adding that Coca-cola also has top-notch horses and players. "This is a tough team to beat. Gillian (Johnston) helps them a lot, and they know each other. We did pretty good for our first game. We just need to get a little bit better."
Lechuza Caracas Defeats Enigma in Overtime
Lechuza Caracas Enigma
Victor Vargas 1 Jerome Wirth 1
Marcos Alberdi 3 Jeff Hall 7
Martin Espain 6 Matias MacDonough 7
Juan Martin Nero 10 Carlucho Arellano 5
The second game, between Lechuza Caracas and Enigma, played out in equally tense fashion. As the window stayed open straight through into overtime. Jeff Hall led the charge for Enigma with the first goal of the game. The second chukker opened at 1-0, but 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero quickly turned the tables, making three goals to push Lechuza into a 3-1 lead. In rapid back-and-forth action, Nero stole the ball from Hall, only to see Matias McDonough snag it away and trade it back and forth with Hall. In superb team play between Hall and MacDonough--which became a repeat act throughout the match - MacDonough scored three consecutive goals, bringing Enigma to a 5-3 lead at halftime.
From that point on, Nero scored in every remaining chukker, eventually making the deciding point in overtime. Enigma retained its position through the fourth and fifth chukkers, leading 8-7 going into the sixth chukker. On an early breakaway, Victor Vargas of Lechuza tied the game at 8 all. In a quick succession of goals, the lead went back and forth between the two teams. Hall made the tying goal as the clock ticked down with 0.37 seconds to go, with 10 all. In overtime, Nero tapped in the deciding goal.
An exhausted Nero said he felt good to have beaten "such a good team," adding that the entire match was "very difficult."
The efforts put in by Hall, a standout seven-goaler, were even more remarkable given that he was playing with an excruciatingly painful shoulder from a crash the previous day. "I didn't play 100 percent because I didn't feel 100 percent. I only played 60-70 percent. I'm lucky I'm even playing (at all) today," he said, holding an ice pack to his shoulder.
"Honestly, I thought we played a pretty good game. I thought we played good as a team. We've been practicing well together, and the team's got good vibes on it. We're respecting each other in our positions and having a lot of fun. I know we'll get a lot better. I feel like the next game we should play really well."
The action resumes Saturday at 10 a.m., when Lucchese opposes CT Energia, followed by Audi versus Tonkawa at noon.