Surviving a fierce single-elimination tournament which consistently produced evenly-matched games, Pilot and Las Monjitas emerged out of a field of 16 challengers to contend for the C.V. Whitney Cup Final on Sunday, February 24, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Confident coming off a strong semifinal game, Pilot demonstrated a series of expertly timed plays by the Pieres brothers, capitalizing on Las Monjitas’ three-man team for a portion of the second half to easily sweep the first 22-goal title 13-6.
“I think the prize money is a good motivator and something really special added for this year. It brings the level of the tournament up because everyone wants to win the money, so I think it was a good decision. We [Pilot] want to win GAUNTLET OF POLO™ because of the prestige of the tournaments and what it means to win the C.V. Whitney Cup, the USPA Gold Cup® and the U.S. Open Polo Championship®.” – Gonzalito Pieres
Although choppy from the onset with the majority of goals scored from the penalty line, the game began evenly and showcased competitive play with $125,000 on the line. Operating as if with one mind, Facundo Pieres on a run to goal hit an unexpected tailshot perfectly placed to brother Gonzalito Pieres who was already in position to intercept the ball and run it to goal. Las Monjitas answered back with a strategic cut shot off the mallet of Hilario Ulloa to end the first 2-1 in favor of Pilot. Accurate from the penalty line, Facundo Pieres and Francisco Elizalde mirrored each other in the second and third, converting a Penalty 2 and 4 each for their teams. Both teams picking up easy goals, Pilot gained the edge with a field goal from Pieres to end the half 5-3, Pilot retaining a surmountable two-goal lead.
The game taking a sizable turn, the second half signaled Pilot’s rapid acceleration and Las Monjitas’ decline as a result of continuous fouls which cost the team in orange their highest-rated player. Dominating in the fourth chukker, Pilot’s explosive offense accumulated an impressive five unanswered goals between the Pieres brothers and Matias Gonzalez*, reading each other’s plays with expert precision. A minute and fifty-one seconds left on the clock, a second yellow flag for Ulloa put Las Monjitas at a disadvantage with their 10-goaler out for two minutes, allowing Pilot to take advantage of the vulnerable three-man team and secure a seven-goal lead. After returning to the field too early at the start of the fifth, Ulloa received a red flag and was forced to sit for the remainder of the game, a huge blow for Las Monjitas who continued to unravel without a full team to defend against Pilot’s attacks. Facundo Pieres added a couple goals to the scoreboard to increase Pilot’s considerable lead 12-3 before 8-goaler Santiago Toccalino was permitted to step on the field as a substitute.https://www.uspolo.org/news-social/news/2019-c-v-whitney-cup