WELLINGTON, Fl., April 15, 2016----Flexjet went cold offensively against undefeated Orchard Hill and was unable to recover losing a 14-8 decision in the 112th USPA U.S. Open Thursday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Tincho Merlos, Sebastian Merlos, Nic Roldan) converted only 1-of-10 field shots and dug itself into a hole early, trailing 9-3 at the half.
Orchard Hill (Facundo Pieres, Julian de Lusarreta, Juan Martin Nero, Steve Van Andel) , already assured a berth in Wednesday’s semifinal after winning its bracket (3-0), may have clinched but didn’t let down against the talented Flexjet team with two former 10-goalers and Roldan, America’s top-rated player at 8 goals.
“We’re still getting to know each other as a new team,” said Van Andel, referring to newest addition Nero, who replaced Polito Pieres, out with a separated shoulder. Facundo Pieres continues to play with a broken finger on his mallet hand.
“We played more relaxed and that made a difference. We all were there for each other. Today was just our day. Hopefully, we can play like that on Wednesday.”
Flexjet was perfect at the penalty line converting 7-of-7 attempts and led in throw-ins, 12-11. Orchard Hill was 6-of-7 in penalty conversions. Each team committed 11 fouls.
Early in the third chukker, Flexjet trailed by two (5-3) but got into foul trouble and was unable to score. Orchard Hill came back to score four unanswered goals to lead 9-3 at the half.
Flexjet was unable to convert any shots from the field in the first half but was 3-of-3 at the penalty line. Flexjet could get no closer than five goals (10-5) in the second half.
Facundo Pieres scored a game-high seven goals, six on penalty conversions. Nero had five goals and de Lusaretta. Tincho Merlos led Flexjet with six goals, five on penalty shots, Ganzi scored one goal and the team was awarded a Penalty One.
Since 1996, the U.S. Open has been held in South Florida. IPC has hosted the event since 2004. In 2005, Julio Gracida added to the Gracida family’s combined record of 36 U.S. Open Polo Championship wins.
Flexjet has been a member of the Directional Aviation family of companies since 2013. They are committed to creating premium travel experiences and providing access to the most modern, technologically-advanced aircraft in the industry on a daily basis, going above and beyond world-class private travel experiences.
The Flexjet-Orchard Hill game was live streamed and can be seen on ChukkerTV, worldwide leaders in polo broadcasting.
Wellington-based ChukkerTV is exclusively live streaming International Polo Club Palm Beach and Grand Champions Polo Club games along with other games around the U.S. during the 2016 season with polo broadcasters Toby Wayman and Dale Schwetz calling the action.
Grand Champions Polo Club is the nation’s busiest and most innovative polo club. The USPA-member club hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 20-goal in addition to special events.
The club also features The Polo School, dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
GRAND CHAMPIONS 2016 WINTER SCHEDULE
SPECIAL EVENTS: Saturday, Women’s Championship Tournament (WCT) Season 11 Finals, consolation, 3 p.m., final, 4 p.m., juniors, 5 p.m.
12-Goal, April, Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame Challenge Cup
8-Goal, April, Aspen Valley Cup, Saturday, Casablanca vs. La Indiana, 10:30 a.m.
6-Goal, April, Las Acacias
GRAND CHAMPIONS 2016 SPRING SCHEDULE
April 21-23: Grand Champions Cup
April 29-May 1: Spring Challenge
May 6-8: Sun Cup
May 13-15: USPA Eastern Challenge
May 20-22: Polo Gear Challenge Cup
May 26-29: The Memorial
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.
DIRECTOR OF POLO: Juan Olivera, 561-644-5050, juan.olivera @gcpolo.com; hotline 561-373-0073.
INFORMATION: For spectators, there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique. The club is home base for pro teams Audi and Flexjet. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere that includes a complimentary Argentine asado by Cilantro’s during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.