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Park Place Captures World Polo League Founders Cup; Hilario Ulloa Named MVP

WELLINGTON, Fla., March 18, 2024--Park Place won its first 26-goal World Polo League title Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.



By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira


Making its WPL debut in the Founders Cup, Park Place (Andrey Borodin, 0, Toly Ulloa, 8, Hilario Ulloa, 10, Cody Ellis, 5) led from start to finish to defeat La Irenita (Gilberto Sayao, 0, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Pablo MacDonough, 10), 17-14.


Hilario Ulloa, 38, scored a team-high eight goals including five penalty conversions and was named Most Valuable Player less than 24 hours after scoring the winning goal in a 13-12 overtime win over Valiente in Gold Cup play.



"I'm very happy with this Park Place debut in the WPL," Ulloa said. "It's the first time I've played 26 goals outside of Argentina with my brother and winning is incredible.


"We are having a great season and we have to be happy with the results. A very hectic week is coming with the WPL on Tuesday and Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday."


Three Best Playing Pony awards were presented. The Argentine Association BPP was Lavinia Inocencia played by Hilario Ulloa in the first and sixth chukkers. The American Polo Horse Association BPP was Machitos Florencia played by Gonzalito Pieres. The World Polo League BPP was Irenita Japonesa, owned and played by MacDonough.



Reigning U.S. Open champion Park Place was relentless throughout the game despite La Irenita battling back in the sixth chukker. Both teams were coming off a week's rest.


Park Place, a 23-goal team, started off with a 2-0 lead on handicap. Buoyed by a great defensive effort and quick offensive attack off the throw-ins, Park Place methodically built its cushion to 6-1 in the opening chukker.


La Irenita tried to get back into the game in the second chukker but Park Place had an answer for nearly everything behind the Ulloa brothers. La Irenita outscored Park Place, 4-2, but Park Place maintained a three-goal cushion, 8-5.



La Irenita sent Hilario Ulloa to the penalty line three times in the third chukker resulting in another dominant chukker by Park Place (4-1) and 12-6 halftime lead.


At the half, Park Place led in shots on goal, 11-9 and knock-ins, 3-1. La Irenita won more throw-ins, 9-6. Park Place led fouls, 6-5.


"We started very well in the first part of the game, but we knew La Irenita was going to come with everything," Ulloa said. "Pablo and Gonza are two first-level players and it was obvious how they were going to approach it."



Gonzalito Pieres and MacDonough took turns at the penalty line in the fourth chukker converting three penlties for a 4-1 chukker, closing the gap to three goals, 13-10.


After Park Place maintained a four-goal advantage in the fifth chukker, 15-11, La Irenita came roaring back in the final chukker.


La Irenita controlled most of the sixth chukker scoring three consecutive goals to close the gap to 15-14 on a great back shot from Tomacho Pieres to Gonzalito Pieres with 3:51 left.


With 2:13 left MacDonough stole the ball only to be hooked by Ellis to regain possession. Hilario Ulloa came up with the ball in a crowd and took off in open space to score for a 16-14 lead while La Irenita players stopped and were looking for a foul to be called. Instead, La Irenita was assessed a technical on verbal appeal and Park Place kept possession for a center hit.



With 2:00 on the clock, Ellis came up with a save on a MacDonough goal attempt. La Irenita regained possession but Ulloa stole the ball and started to work the clock. Borodin scored in the closing seconds.


In addition to Ulloa's heroics, Toly Ulloa had four goals, Borodin had two and Ellis added one goal. For La Irenita, Gonzalito Pieres scored a team-high eight goals, MacDonough had five and Tomacho Pieres added one.


The game's final statistics were close. Park Place outshot La Irenita, 21-20. Each team had six knock-ins. La Irenita led throw-ins, 15-13. Park Place led fouls, 11-8.


La Irenita advanced into the final with a 16-14 win over Audi (Marc Ganzi, 1, Nic Roldan, 8/Pipe Vercellino, 7, Jeta Castagnola, 10, Pancho Bensadon, 7). Park Place advanced with a 10-8 win over Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Rufino Bensadon, 8, Sapo Caset, 9, Hilario Figueras, 6).


The WPL, the winter season's biggest highlight, continues to make history as the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina.

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