Orchard Hill Edges Out Lucchese 14-13 in Joe Barry Cup Semifinals

Friday, January 23, 2015

Nico Pieres and Lucas Criado. Photo: Liz Lamont/Phelps Media Group.
Nico Pieres and Lucas Criado. Photo: Liz Lamont/Phelps Media Group.

January 22, 2015 - Wellington, FL - Thursday was a whirlwind of semifinals, with three games deciding the lineup for Sunday's two 20-goal tournament finals. Orchard Hill beat Lucchese, securing a spot against Villa del Lago in the Joe Barry Cup Finals. Audi sped past FlexJet, and Lechuza Caracas took Tonkawa in their respective divisions of the Bobby Barry Cup Semifinals.

Orchard Hill                           Lucchese
Steve Van Andel   A              John Muse*   A
Lucas Criado   8                    Magoo LaPrida   8
Facundo Pieres   10              Nico Pieres   8
Remy Muller   2                     Andres Weisz**   4
                                             *Benjamin Avendano   A
                                             **Geronimo Obregon   4

Magoo LaPrida and Facundo Pieres. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Magoo LaPrida and Facundo Pieres. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

The semi-final match of Orchard Hill versus Lucchese was a tight match from start to finish. Ultimately Orchard Hill came out on top, ending the sixth chukker 14-13 with 23 seconds left on the clock. Facundo Pieres started off the match strong with a pass to Remy Muller, who hit the flip shot to score the first goal of the match. Facundo Pieres followed that up with a breakaway to the north to give Orchard Hill the lead 2-0. After several penalties were called on each team, Nico Pieres made a penalty conversion for Lucchese, making the score 2-1 and scoring the only goal for Lucchese in the first chukker.

Lucchese started off the second chukker with a superb display of teamwork. Magoo LaPrida hit a long pass to Benjamin Avendano, who passed it along to Nico Pieres to tie the score up 2-2. Facundo Pieres made a goal attempt, but it was backed out by Andres Weisz. After a penalty attempt went wide, Facundo Pieres fired a neck shot past LaPrida to put a score on the board for Orchard Hill. Lucas Criado attempted a backshot, but it went wide over the back line. Facundo Pieres picked the ball up from LaPrida and ended the second chukker with a score of 4-2. Nico Pieres made a penalty conversion to start out the third chukker.  Facundo Pieres made an end-to-end run down field to score 5-3. Facundo Pieres made a great pass to Steve Van Andel to drive the ball out of Orchard Hill territory, picking up the ball from Van Andel down field to score 6-3. Facundo Pieres followed that up with a neck shot to increase Orchard Hill's lead 7-3 and end the third chukker.

Facundo Pieres and Benjamin Avendano. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Facundo Pieres and Benjamin Avendano. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Weisz scored a goal from the field for Lucchese at the beginning of the fourth chukker, attempting to close the gap between the two teams. Nico Pieres made his third penalty shot of the day to make the score 7-5. He followed that up with another quick goal for Lucchese. Criado scored on a perfect pass from Facundo Pieres making the score 8-6. Due to darkness, the game was scheduled to continue on Thursday at 11 a.m.

The game picked up with a penalty shot in favor of Orchard Hill, which Facundo Pieres completed easily, making the score 9-6. Geronimo Obregon, in to replace Weisz, scored off of the bowl-in.  Nico Pieres made yet another penalty shot to make the score 9-8. Facundo Pieres then made a penalty conversion for Orchard Hill, making the score 10-8. Nico Pieres scored, inching up on Orchard Hill. The match quickly began to follow a pattern of hard runs followed by high traffic as players on both sides fought to score. Facundo Pieres hit a pass to Criado, who fought off defender Avendano to score 11-9. Nico Pieres quickly answered with a pass to Obregon to end the fifth chukker with only one goal separating teams.

Facundo Pieres fumbled the ball on the knock-in at the beginning of the sixth chukker, only to regain control and make a long run to score 12-10. Nico Pieres made a penalty conversion to score. With the fans on the edge of their seats, Obregon scored to tie up the game 12-12. Facundo Pieres hit a lofted shot for a penalty conversion and broke the tie 13-12. After hitting heavy traffic, Nico Pieres nabbed the ball from the midst of a congested cluster and managed to score tying it up again 13-13 with 53 seconds left in the game. Facundo Pieres skirted away with the ball at the throw-in to end the game 14-13 with 23 seconds left in the game.

Facundo Pieres. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Facundo Pieres. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Patron Steve Van Andel is thrilled with the win under difficult circumstances.

"It was a tough game - it got split up between two different days and two different fields, and you lose your rhythm," he said. "So it was tough for both teams. I'm happy we came out on top, but I've got to tell you, that was the toughest game we've had."
Facundo Pieres, who scored 12 of Orchard Hill's 14 goals, felt the pressure during the continuation of the match.

"They had nothing to lose," said Facundo. "We had everything to lose because we only had two and a half chukkers left and we were only two goals up, so we had the pressure and that didn't help us. But we won and it was a difficult game to win because they were playing better today than us. We were a bit lucky and we won."

Nic Roldan and Miguel Novillo Astrada. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Nic Roldan and Miguel Novillo Astrada. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Audi Zooms Past FlexJet 9-7
Nic Roldan rocked and rolled his way through the Bobby Barry Cup Semifinals on Thursday at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. With his trademark verve, he propelled the team to a 9-4 win over FlexJet, securing Audi a spot in Sunday's finals against Lechuza Caracas.

Audi                                                Flex Jet
Marc Ganzi   A                                  Melissa Ganzi   A
Lucas Lalor   5                                  Guille Aguero   6
Nic Roldan   8                                   Miguel Astrada   9
Freddie Mannix   6                           Juan Bollini   5

For most of the match, if Roldan wasn't making the play, he was in on it. In a consistently solid game, he scored from the field four times in as many chukkers. But this was no one-man show. The reason Audi came out on top is no mystery - it's the same way the team got to the semifinals in the first place: the uncanny way Roldan and Freddie Mannix (who made two goals) seem to read one another's minds. In a Lennon-McCartney sync, this duo knows how to make one and one equal one.

Lucas Lalor and Guille Aguero. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Lucas Lalor and Guille Aguero. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

But by no means were Roldan and Mannix out there slugging it alone. In what has not been the norm for most teams during the past three weeks of tournament play, every member of the Audi team scored in the semifinal match. Lucas Lalor and Mark Ganzi each contributed a goal.

Audi seized the lead in the first few minutes of play and never unclenched its jaws, staying ahead of FlexJet straight through to the end. With FlexJet scoreless in the first two chukkers, Audi was in the driver's seat. Still, this was to be no easy ride. To Audi's consternation, "Dead-eye" (a/k/a Miguel Astrada), a powerhouse 9-goaler, made spot-on perfect drives through the goalposts in chukkers 3, 4 and 5. He engaged Roldan more times than you could count.

In a span of 30 seconds, Roldan took a 60-yard defended penalty shot, which was headed straight for goal - until Astrada snatched it out of mid-air and ran off with it. Roldan stepped on the throttle, reclaimed the ball and threaded the needle, giving Audi a 3-0 lead. Mannix followed that up pronto. In a slick maneuver, he suddenly broke for a pass and turned the play into a horse race (and another goal), leaving FlexJet in the dust. (It marked an impressive debut for Red Scent, a chestnut gelding that Mannix called "spectacular.")

Guille Aguero and Freddie Mannix. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Guille Aguero and Freddie Mannix. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

There were some lighter moments in the match, however. At one point Roldan drove the ball so high and hard that it slammed like a missile into the ground. With the clock stopped, Roldan tried to finagle the ball out of the turf from atop his horse, breaking his mallet in the process. He cantered off to fetch a new one, with the announcer joking, "That was an expensive play, Nic!"

The third chukker opened 5-0 for Audi. Then Astrada blazed one in from the field, putting FlexJet on the scoreboard for the first time. Mark Ganzi quickly countered that, bringing the score to 6-1. Audi managed to shift the momentum for a while in the fourth chukker with goals by Astrada, Mark Ganzi and Guille Aguero. But Audi reasserted itself, ending the chukker in an 8-4 lead.

Astrada and Roldan mixed it up again a few more times, each scoring once in the fifth. Audi didn't score in the final chukker, which opened 9-5. FlexJet poured it on for two more goals, bringing the final tally to 9-7 for Audi."I'm really happy," said Mannix. "I think the team functioned really well. We've been talking about improving our teamwork, and I think we made a lot of team plays today where we went from a defensive position to a neutral position to an attacking position, all because of teamwork. I liked it. When you make a plan and it works, it's fun."

Roldan seconded that emotion. "We had a good time today. The team felt great. We're out of the semis (of the main tournament), and that kind of bummed us out a little bit because we know we're a good team and we have the capabilities to be there. But we feel good about Sunday. We just came off a good game, and we're ready to go. Lechuza's a good team and it will be tough, but it will be a fun game because they play open.

Lechuza Caracas Advances to the Bobby Barry Cup Final with a Scrappy Victory over Tonkawa

Lechuza Caracas drew on the tradition and depth of their storied organization to win their Bobby Barry Cup Semifinal by a score of 9-7 over Tonkawa. The team was missing captain Victor Vargas, who was out of town on business, and 6 goal professional Martin Espain, who was suffering from stomach flu. But Luis Alfonso de Borbon, the son-in-law of Vargas, and Tomas Goti, stepped in and drew on their past experience playing with Lechuza Caracas to help roster regulars Juan Martin Nero and Marcos Alberdi defeat Tonkawa.

Gonzalo Deltour, Juan Martin Nero, Jeff Hildebrand, Tomas Goti, Inaki Laprida. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Gonzalo Deltour, Juan Martin Nero, Jeff Hildebrand, Tomas Goti, Inaki Laprida. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Lechuza Caracas                         Tonkawa       
Luis Alfonso de Borbon   1               Jeff Hildebrand   A
Marcos Alberdi       3                        Gonzalo del Tour   7
Juan Martin Nero   10                      Inaki Laprida   7
Tomas Goti   6                                  Jeff Blake   6

Both teams started the game out of rhythm, and multiple fouls slowed down the pace of play. Nero drilled a penalty 4 to start the scoring for Lechuza, and followed that by converting a penalty 3. Gonzalo del Tour got Tonkawa on the board at the end of first chukker with a penalty 3 conversion.

Tomas Goti opened up the scoring in the second chukker with a goal from the field as he followed up on a goal attempt by Alberdi, and Goti's field goal opened the scoring floodgates for the Lechuza machine. Although Lechuza missed three penalty 4 attempts, they racked up the points on three field goals from Nero and a field goal from Alberdi which gave a Lechuza a 7-1 lead with a minute left in the third chukker. Just before the third chukker warning horn, Tonkawa's Inaki Laprida intercepted a Lechuza back shot and sent a pass to a charging del Tour who scored to make the situation a little less desperate for Tonkawa. The third chukker closed out with the score 7-2 in favor of Lechuza.

Juan Martin Nero and Inaki LaPrida. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Juan Martin Nero and Inaki LaPrida. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

Tonkawa came out of the half time break on a mission to create some offense. Del Tour ran coast-to-coast on a speedy little chestnut to notch a field goal for the team in white, while his shot crossed the goal line he was fouled by a Lechuza player. The goal counted and Tonkawa was awarded a Penalty 5 going south. Jeff Blake took advantage of the gain in field position to smack a pass to del Tour who scored yet again. All of the sudden, Tonkawa had the momentum, only to see their charge countered by de Borbon scoring a field goal to make the score 8-4 in favor of Lechuza. Del Tour was not finished with his scoring spree, closing out the fast and furious fourth chukker with another field goal to end it 8-5, still in favor of Lechuza .

The fifth chukker was a defensive struggle for the teams. Both were held scoreless until del Tour converted a Penalty 4 with 2:34 left in the chukker, pulling Tonkawa within two goals of the Lechuza lead. But just when it seemed that Tonkawa would come back, Nero ran a clever series of plays that resulted in a de Borbon goal and a three-goal lead for Lechuza to end the chukker.

The two teams charged back and forth across the field, but the goal eluded both. Nero was very strong on defense for Lechuza, and thwarted the Tonkawa players until Laprida was able to score a Penalty 2 for Tonkawa with a minute left. But that would not be enough for Tonkawa, and Lechuza held on to the lead to win 9-7.

Juan Martin Nero. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.
Juan Martin Nero. Photo: Liz Lamont Images/Phelps Media Group.

"It was very good fun to win the game," commented Nero. De Borbon whose two field goals proved crucial to the margin of victory, was happily exhausted. As he stretched out the post game kinks he said, "It was so hard to stay on the horse after not playing 20-goal in so long!"

The other substitute player, Tomas Goti, reminisced the history of the players games together over the years. "It feels good to play with Juan Martin and this team, and with Alfonso who I used to play with in years past for Lechuza," said Goti "It is really fun to play with such a good team and good organization."

Lechuza prepares now for the Bobby Barry Cup Final (Joe Barry Cup subsidiary), scheduled for noon on Sunday, January 25 at International Polo Club.

The action continues Friday, with CT Energia playing Palm Beach Illustrated at 11 a.m. On Sunday, Lechuza contests Audi in the Bobby Barry Cup at noon, with the featured Joe Barry Cup between Orchard Hill and Villa del Lago at 3 p.m.