Wins by King Power and La Indiana advance British Open standings
By Alex Webbe
In their second overtime match of the 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup at the Cowdray Park Polo Club a seventh chukker goal by Argentine 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres lifted King Power (Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Jimbo Fewster, Gonzalito Pieres and Facundo Pieres) past a disappointed Habtoor lineup (Mohammed Al Habtoor, Nicolas Pieres, Francisco Elizalde and Paco O’Dwyer) Thursday afternoon.
Paco O’Dwyer scored the first goal of the game for Habtoor for a 1-0 lead before King Power responded. Facundo Pieres converted a 40-yard penalty shot and added another from the field. A goal from teammate Jimbo Fewster had the 2016 defending champions ahead, 3-1. Francisco Elizalde scored the final goal of the chukker that left Habtoor trailing, 3-2.
A 60-yard penalty shot from Nico Pieres (younger brother of King Power 10-goalers Facundo and Gonzalito) scored the first goal of the second period on a 60-yard penalty shot, tying the game at 3-3. Mohammed Al Habtoor scored his first goal of the game for a 4-3 Habtoor advantage. Facundo Pieres scored his third goal of the day to close out the second chukker with Habtoor and King Power in a 4-4 deadlock.
King Power looked to take control of the game in the third. Consecutive goals from Gonzalito Pieres and Facundo Pieres gave King Power a two-goal margin, 6-4, but Habtoor wasn’t done. Nico Pieres and Mohammed Al Habtoor each scored a goal to end the first half in a 6-6 tie.
The Habtoor lineup came alive in the fourth. Two goals from Nico Pieres and a single goal from Elizalde were complimented by an aggressive defense that kept King Power off of the scoreboard. After four chukkers of play, the lead belonged to Habtoor, 9-6.
There was no letup from Habtoor in the fifth with O’Dwyer scoring consecutive goals for a five-goal, 11-6 Habtoor lead. A goal from Fewster rallied eh King Power troops, however, with Facundo Pieres scoring twice and Gonzalito Pieres adding a goal that cut the Habtoor lead to a single goal, 11-10.
Nico Pieres extended the Habtoor lead to two goals, 12-10, with the first goal of the sixth period, when Facundo Pieres took control. Two goals from the field and a 60-yard penalty conversion had King Power in front, 13-12, with time running out. A King Power foul sent Nico Pieres to the penalty line where he converted a 40-yard shot that tied the game, 13-13, and forced a sudden-death overtime chukker.
Habtoor was scrambling in hopes of earning their first win of the tournament, but it wasn’t to be. Gonzalito Pieres scored the winning goal for the 14-13 King Power victory.
Facundo Pieres led all scoring on the day with nine goals. Gonzalito as credited with three goals, including the winning shot. Fewster contributed two goals for the win. A balanced Habtoor offense had Nico Pieres scoring a team-high six times. O’Dwyer added three goals. Elizalde and Habtoor each scored twice in a losing effort. The win boosts King Power (2-1) in the lead of A League competition. The loss drops Habtoor to 0-2.
La Indiana 11, El Remanso 9
Three times may be a charm for some, but it certainly isn’t for the El Remanso polo team (Charlie Hanbury, Oliver Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper). For the third time this season Michael Bickford’s La Indiana side (Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan, Agustin Merlos and Luke Tomlinson) got the best of the All-English team in the second British Open match of the day, 11-9.
La Indiana got the best of El Remanso in Trippetts Challenge action in May, 10-8, and followed it up with a 10-9 win in Queens Cup play in June. With Thursday’s 11-9 July victory, El Remanso remains winless against La Indiana, and can only hope that they don’t meet again this season.
El Remanso opened strong with goals from James Beim, James Harper and Ollie Cudmore, but La Indiana fought back. Agustin Merlos scored La Indiana’s first goal of the day followed by a goal from Luke Tomlinson. At the end of the first chukker, the lead belonged to El Remanso, 3-2.
Merlos tied the game at 3-3 with the opening goal of the second period, and gave his team the lead, 4-3, with a second goal. El Remanso’s Charlie Hanbury tie d the game at 4-4, with the final goal of the chukker.
Both defenses played aggressively in the third, and goals were scarce. Beim’s second goal on the day had El Remanso back on top, 4-3, but La Indiana was yet to be heard from. Merlos scored his third goal of the game that had the teams level at 5-5 at the end of the first half.
Harper converted a 40-yard penalty shot for the first goal of the second half and a 6-5 El Remanso lead when La Indiana took over. Consecutive goals from Merlos Tomlinson and team captain Michael Bickford turned the tables on El Remanso. After four periods of play, the lead belonged to La Indiana, 8-6.
Cudmore cut the lead back to a single goal, 8-7 with El Remanso’s opening goal of the fifth, but the rest of the chukker belonged to La Indiana. Goals from Bickford and Nic Roldan ended the scoring with La Indiana riding off the field with a 10-7 advantage.
Tomlinson’s third goal of the game sent La Indiana in front by four goals, 11-7, as El Remanso fought to get back into the game. Midway through the chukker Agustin Merlos was injured and replaced by his older brother and former 10-goaler Pite Merlos. A goal from the field from Hanbury and a 40-yard penalty goal from Beim was all the offense they could muster, however, as the final horn sounded on an 11-9 La Indiana victory.
Agustin Merlos led the field in scoring with five goals. Tomlinson added three goals; Bickford scored twice and Roldan was credited with a goal in the 11-9 win. Beim scored a team-high three goals in a balanced El Remanso attack. Harper, Cudmore and Hanbury scored two goals apiece in the loss.
The win boosts the El Remanso record to 2-1. The loss is the first of the tournament for El Remanso who fall to 1-1.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup competition is scheduled to continue on Saturday, July 8th with a noon game between RH Polo (Ben Soleimani, Tommy Beresford, Adolfo Cambiaso and Rodrigo Andrade) and Sommelier (George Hanbury, Juan Gris Zavaleta, Fred Mannix and Alec White). The second match of the day will feature Murus Sanctus (Corinne Ricard, Hilario Ulloa, Facundo Sola and Martin Podesta) and Monterosso (Alessandro Bazzoni, Ignacio Toccalino, Santiago Toccalino and Matt Perry).