Takes 10-7 Win in Ylvisaker Cup Quarterfinals
Wellington, Florida - Lucchese broke Orchard Hill's undefeated record in the Ylvisaker Cup quarterfinals Sunday on Engel & Völkers field at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Lucchese won 10-7, and its number three player, Nico Pieres, went home with awards for MVP and best-playing pony ("Footsie"). Lucchese advances to the semifinals Wednesday, playing Valiente at 3 p.m.
Lucchese Orchard Hill
John Muse A Steve Van Andel A
Andres Weisz 4 Lucas Criado 8
Magoo Laprida 8 Facundo Pieres 10
Nico Pieres 8 Remy Muller 2
If anyone could describe the game in a nutshell, it was Lucchese patron John Muse. He walked into the tent afterward, smiling and shaking his head as he said, "What a war!" That elicited laughter and head nodding from Magoo Laprida and Pieres, a pair of 8-goal powerhouses who propelled Lucchese into a commanding and sustained lead that was dotted with a couple of ties. Lucchese established its dominance in the opening moments of the game, when Pieres slammed in a 60-yard penalty shot to score. In a foreshadowing of things to come, his brother, Facundo Pieres, mirrored his exact move, making the next goal on the same yardage.
There was a lot of Pieres-on-Pieres play throughout the match, as is often the case when the fraternal dynamos play on opposing teams. Each accounted for several 100-yard-plus shots, not surprising for a 10-goaler (Facundo) and an 8-goaler (Nico) whose last names are both Pieres. Facundo Pieres, superb at faking out his defenders, baited them every so often with some cat-and-mouse play. Just when they were lulled into a sense of security, he'd snap back into full-on forward motion and scamper down the field to score. Nico Pieres made his own slick moves, scoring on an unbelievably gymnastic play in the second chukker. He reached back, took the ball on the bounce and pounded it into goal from five-and-a-half feet off the ground.
Laprida also put in some fancy footwork, charging across the centerline with the ball. Steve Van Andel swiped it for all of a millisecond, only to have Laprida snatch it back. Laprida gave a swarm of defenders the slip as he swatted the ball down the field to score. He was hustled again and again by Orchard Hill, determined to make him work for every goal he made.
Then it was a flashback with one Pieres goal after another (insert whichever first name you like). The brothers mixed it up big time, each scoring in five chukkers. In the top of the second half, Nico Pieres worked in tandem with Andres Weisz, who backhanded a shot to him. Fending off two or three Orchard Hill players at any given time, Nico Pieres kept a bouncing ball going as he tap-tapped it in the air. After a whistle, he took a 60-yard penalty shot. Seeing that the ball wasn't going to go in, Weisz stepped in and angled it over to Laprida, who in turn passed it back to Nico Pieres. He scored, bringing the tally to 8-5 for Lucchese.
An undaunted Orchard Hill kept knocking on the door. In the fifth chukker, Facundo Pieres converted from 30 yards, tightening the gap to 8-6. Then Nico Pieres pulled out in front at warp speed, all the while being chased down by his brother. Facundo Pieres couldn't stop him, though. Nico Pieres scored, giving Lucchese a three-point lead. Two more goals in the final chukker (one each by Facundo Pieres and Weisz) brought the final score to 10-7 for Lucchese. "The four of us played a good game. We had to," said Laprida, noting Orchard Hill's unblemished record. "And they have Facundo, which is always something (to deal with)."
Nico Pieres had a 100 percent scoring record in the game, shooting 70 percent above the tournament average. "We played a really good game and we controlled them, and the four of us had a win," he said. He called it a tough game, noting that Orchard Hill won the last tournament (the Joe Barry Cup) and was undefeated since the start of the season. "For us it was like (playing) a final. Luckily we made it."
International Polo Club Palm Beach Fast Facts:
Created by players for players, the International Polo Club Palm Beach was born out of the dream to build a facility to showcase the incredible skills of the ponies and players that dominate the sport. Members and guests enjoy panoramic views of the action from field side box seats or lawn and terrace seating. Sponsors and fans convene at The Winners Circle to congratulate the players during the awards presentation following the games. Gourmet brunches, après polo celebrations and the prerequisite charitable events will take place in The Pavilion. Designed to accommodate large parties, corporate clients, as well as family and friends.
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