WELLINGTON, Fl., April 12, 2017---Audi returned to winning form with an impressive 14-8 victory over Coca-Cola Wednesday in the final bracket round of the 113th U.S. Open at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
After two losses, Audi (Grant Ganzi/Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Magoo Laprida, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) broke open a close game late in the fourth chukker to take an 8-6 lead and pulled away with six unanswered goals.
“We played wide open polo,” Roldan said. “We played well and tried to save horses. We had to put our first two losses out of our head. We didn’t play badly those first two games, we just didn’t win them.”
Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Julio Arellano, Miguel Novillo Astrada), coming off a 17-12 loss to Valiente, was unable to mount any offensive threat in the final two chukkers.
“We just decided we play a lot of horses today, no horse played more than three minutes,” Marc Ganzi said.
“We just wanted to arrive at every ball, hit it and try to move all four players. I think it worked out pretty well playing wide open polo. We played very open polo and once we create space we can play like this. Hopefully, we can carry this to Sunday.”
Audi lost to Flexjet, 10-9, and Orchard Hill, 12-8, in its first two games.
“There is no such thing as a moral victory in polo but we felt like from the field we outplayed both of the teams we played,” Ganzi said. “We scored more field goals than the other two teams. We didn’t take care of the foul line extremely well so what we gave up on the foul line costs us the two games.”
Laprida and Novillo Astrada are the two newest members to the Audi lineup.
“We played well as a team,” Laprida said. “It went well for us. We were hitting the ball well. I think we played good the first two games. We just had a couple of bad plays and that costs us the games, but we were close. We think we can beat any team if we play well and we can lose to any team if we play bad.”
Novillo Astrada, who played against his brother Miguel Novillo Astrada, said he feels more comfortable with his new team after three games.
“It feels very good to win and it gives us a boost of confidence for the quarterfinals,” Novillo Astrada said. “We are still in it.
“We only started playing this tournament. It’s not like the other teams that were playing before. It took us a little bit to get the rhythm and to know each other but we are playing well together and improving and that’s important.
“We were in our first two games but we were a little bit out of rhythm. Like every machine, everything has to go perfect to go well.”
Audi got balanced scoring from its lineup. Marc Ganzi and Alejandro Novillo Astrada each had four goals. Roldan had three goals, Laprida had two and Grant Ganzi, who started the game, added one goal. It was the teenager’s second U.S. Open appearance. His U.S. Open debut was two years ago for Flexjet against Audi.
For Coca-Cola, Arellano led with four goals. Miguel Novillo Astrada added three goals and de Lusarreta had one.
The game statistics were fairly close. Coca-Cola converted 6-of-12 shots from the field and Audi 12-of-21. Coca-Cola was 2-for-2 at the penalty line and Audi was 2-for-3. Coca-Cola led in fouls, 7-5, and Audi led in throw-ins, 15-13.
Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi is now 1-2 and in a four-way tie with Coca-Cola, Orchard Hill and Travieso. A shootout will be held Thursday morning at 9 a.m. to determine positioning forSunday’s mini-quarterfinals.
Flexjet is the only remaining undefeated team in the six-team tournament after knocking off Valiente, 10-9, and snapping its eight-game win streak that dates back to the C.V. Whitney Cup. Flexjet is 3-0 and advances into Wednesday’s semifinals. Valiente (2-1) won its bracket and also advances.
Rated No. 1 by Consumer Reports as the best auto brand overall, Audi is a valued sponsor with a rich winning tradition in polo. The German automobile manufacturer designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles throughout the world including West Palm Beach.
The tournament is being live-streamed on the USPA Polo Network at uspolo.org with content provided by production company and Wellington-based ChukkerTV. All games will also be available for on-demand viewing.
Grand Champions Polo Club, with its eleven well-manicured polo fields, caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals in all walks of life opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
2017 GRAND CHAMPIONS WINTER SCHEDULE
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
APRIL: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), Thursday Semifinal Round, Valiente I vs. Orchard Hill, 11 a.m., Valiente Polo Farm, Field 3; Palm Beach Illustrated vs. Valiente II, 4 p.m., Valiente Polo Farm, Field 1; Saturday, Championship Final, 4 p.m., Grand Champions Polo Club Field 2.
APRIL: Las Acacias (4-8 Goals).
APRIL 21-23: GCPC Abierto.
APRIL 28-30: USPA Eastern Challenge.
MAY 5-7: USPA Sun Cup
MAY 12-14: The Spring Challenge Cup.
MAY 19-21: Polo Gear Invitational.
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.
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 food and refreshments during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.