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Park Place Wins World Polo League Debut, La Irenita Impressive In Founders Cup Opener; Doubleheader On Wednesday

WELLINGTON, Fla., February 26, 2024--Park Place won its 26-goal World Polo League debut Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira

Park Place (Andrey Borodin, 0, Toly Ulloa, 8, Hilario Ulloa, 10, Cody Ellis, 5), the reigning U.S. Open champion, held off Travieso (Tony Calle, 3, Martin Jauregui, 6, Pepe Vercellino, 7, Juan Martin Nero, 10), 12-11, in the second game of a doubleheader on Opening Day of the Founders Cup, the season's second WPL tournament.

La Irenita (Gilberto Sayao, 0, Tomacho Pieres, 6, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Pablo MacDonough, 10) held Senvest (Richard Mashaal, 0, Facundo Llosa, 7, Magoo Laprida, 8, Pedro Falabella, 7) scoreless for five chukkers to win, 10-5, in the opening game. It was the first time a team had been held scoreless on the field for five consecutive chukkers in a WPL game.

On Wednesday, another doubleheader is scheduled. Maltese Falcons plays Travieso at 11 a.m. and Casablanca plays Alegria at 3 p.m. Adolfo Cambiaso returns to the WPL after a three-year absence. The 10-goaler will play for Maltese Falcons. On Sunday, Cambiaso was named MVP after leading his Valiente team to a 12-10 win over La Dolfina in the C.V. Whitney Cup final.

Sunday's matchups were like night and day. In a departure from their All-Star Challenge meeting where La Irenita needed an overtime chukker to defeat Senvest, 12-11, Senvest could not get its offense untracked until the final chukker.

Senvest started off with three goals on handicap but after that it was missed shots and unforced errors that plagued the talented foursome. Early in the game, Senvest was six-of-six in throw-ins but could not capitalize.

La Irenita, meanwhile, played its best polo on both ends of the field. In the first half, La Irenita outshot Senvest, 10-2, and did not give up a foul. For the game, La Irenita outshot Senvest, 15-8. Senvest led in throw-ins, 10-2. There was only one foul committed in the game by La Irenita and nine by Senvest.

La Irenita led 8-3 going into the final chukker and 10-3 with 3:03 remaining in the game. Senvest scored two goals in the final two minutes by Laprida and Falabella.

What started out with Park Place leading 6-0 after the opening chukker, turned into a close game. Park Place started out with a 3-0 lead on handicap and finished the chukker leading 6-0 behind Hilario Ulloa's first three goals of the game.

Travieso clawed its way back for a 4-1 second chukker to trail, 7-4. Travieso outscored Park Place, 7-2, in the second and third chukkers to trail, 8-7, at the half.

Park Place never trailed in the second half, shutting out Travieso, 2-0, in the fourth chukker. Vercellino kept Travieso in the game, coming within one goal with 35 seconds left. Calle got the throw-in but Ulloa stole the ball to secure the win.

The teams combined for 31 fouls with fourteen goals scored on penalty conversions.

Hilario Ulloa scored all nine of Park Place's goals including six penalty conversions. Vercellino had a team-high eight goals, all on penalty conversions. Jauregui had two goals and Calle added one.

At the half, both teams had nine shots on goal. Travieso led in throw-ins, 10-3 and knock-ins, 4-2. Park Place led in fouls, 10-5. Overall, Travieso outshot Park Place, 19-15, and led in throw-ins, 14-6. Park Place led in fouls 19-12 and knock-ins, 8-6.

Nine teams are competing in the double- elimination tournament. Everyone plays the other two teams in their brackets. The teams will then be ranked 1-9 based on win-loss first, then net goals and then gross goals to determine who the top four teams are to advance into the semifinals. First plays fourth and second plays third.

Audi won last year's Founders Cup. After dominating most of the game, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 1, Jeta Castagnola, 10, Nic Roldan, 8, Fred Mannix, 7) needed an overtime chukker to defeat Richard Mille (Patricio Mayor, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Lucas James, 7, Pablo MacDonough, 10) 14-13. Jeta Castagnola was named MVP.

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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