Articles: Press Release
Lechuza Caracas Edges Loro Piana 9-8 to Control Destiny; Skeeterville Captures Division I Title in Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open Championship at International Polo Club Palm Beach
White Birch Player
YA Teitelbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org or
(561) 373-5424 or
Mason Phelps, Jr. of Phelps Media Group, Inc. at (561)
753-3389 or at email@example.com
WELLINGTON, FL - Lechuza Caracas used the same formula, building up a large lead going into the final chukker and holding on, en route to a 9-8 victory over Loro Piana Sunday in the Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open Polo Championship at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
In other Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open action, Skeeterville captured the Division I title with an 11-10 victory over Millarville, Bendabout kept its playoff hopes alive with a 13-12 overtime win over Las Monjitas and C Spear edged Pony Express 9-8 in overtime.
All three of Lechuza's games have been decided by one goal, despite having large leads late in the game. In their opener against Orchard Hill, they led 14-9 going into the sixth chukker and won 14-13. Against Skeeterville, they led 9-6 midway through the fifth chukker and lost 9-8. Against Loro Piana, they led 9-5 going into the sixth chukker before holding on to move into sole possession of second place in Division I.
"Again, in the last chukker, we're letting the other team score quite easily," said 10-goaler Sebastian Merlos of Lechuza Caracas. "We relax a little and try to save the horses, and we need to fix that. If you relax for half a chukker, teams will score two or three goals."
Loro Piana, the first Italian-sponsored team in the U.S. Open, scored three goals in a 1:49 span to cut the margin to 9-8 with 2:36 remaining in the game. That was the closest they got since a 1-1 tie early in the first chukker.
Loro Piana missed an opportunity to tie the game when Pepe Heguy's shot went wide right with 1:36 left in the game. A penalty gave Lechuza Caracas possession at midfield with 1:05 remaining and the Merlos brothers played keepaway to clinch the victory. Loro Piana had a knock-in with 19 seconds left but could only get just past midfield as time ran out.
"We just needed to kill time, to keep the ball," said Sebastian Merlos, about the team's strategy in the last minute.
Sebastian and Pite Merlos scored four goals each to lead Lechuza Caracas while Gaston Urturi added one goal and patron Victor Vargas did not score.
Eight-goaler Marcos DiPaola led Loro Piana with four goals while Pete Heguy added two goals and Milo Araujo and patron Alfio Marchini scored one goal apiece. However, Marchini missed a 30-yard penalty shot with 3:03 left in the third chukker.
Lechuza Caracas, which reached the semifinals in 2004 and the final in 2003, needs to modify its formula to ensure it advances to the quarterfinals.
"We have to depend 75 percent on us," said 10-goaler Pite Merlos. "There is always a lucky bounce, but it will be a tough game for us (against Millarville).
"We've got a good chance, we're one of the two best teams in our division," said Sebastian Merlos. "I think our chances are good (to advance) but it depends on us."
Skeeterville's victory guaranteed it either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the quarterfinals. Skeeterville patron Skeeter Johnston has never won the U.S. Open, although he reached the final twice, in 2000 with Everglades and in 1998 with Coca-Cola.
Skeeterville scored the game's last three goals, the game-winner on a 60-yard shot by Julio Arellano to win the division with a 4-0 record.
Arellano, Johnston and Lucas Monteverde finished with three goals each while Owen Rinehart added two goals for Skeeterville. Luis Escobar led Millarville (1-2) with four goals while Fred Mannix Jr. scored three goals, Brandon Phillips added two and Daniel Roenisch had one goal.
Patron Gillian Johnston's goal with 5:08 left in overtime lifted Bendabout over Las Monjitas and into a three-way tie for first place in Division II. Bendabout, C Spear and Airstream all have 2-1 records.
Airstream plays Bendabout Thursday at 1 p.m. and C Spear takes on Las Monjitas at 3 p.m. to decide the qualifiers.
Ten-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada led Bendabout with six goals while Tommy Biddle added four goals, including the tying goal on a 60-yard shot in the sixth chukker. Johnston finished with two goals and Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored one goal.
Jeff Blake led Las Monjitas (1-2) with six goals and Javier Novillo Astrada scored five goals while Eduardo Novillo Astrada had one goal and patron Camilo Bautista did not score.
Nine-goaler Agustin Merlos scored six goals to lead 2003 champion C Spear over Pony Express. The loss eliminated Pony Express (1-3), which was led by five goals from Bautista Heguy.
Action in the Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open continues Wednesday with four games - Catamount (2-1) against Isla Carroll (0-3) and Loro Piana (1-2) against Orchard Hill (0-3), both at 10:30 a.m. followed by Lechuza Caracas (2-1) against Millarville (1-2) at 1 p.m. and White Birch (3-0) against Old Pueblo (2-1). The quarterfinals are Sunday.
A record-tying 15 teams have entered the 26-goal Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open Championship, the most prestigious polo tournament in North America, highlighting the second season at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
An international field featuring most of the world's best players are vying to lift the historic U.S. Open trophy in triumph at the conclusion of what should be a fantastic finale on Sunday, April 24 at 3 p.m.
This year's 15 entrants ties the record set in 2002. Thirteen teams entered the Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open in 2004.
Nine of the world's 14 10-goalers (the sport's maximum rating) are scheduled to play in the tournament - Mariano Aguerre (White Birch), Javier Novillo Astrada (Las Monjitos), Miguel Novillo Astrada (Bendabout), Mike Azzaro (Catamount), Carlos Gracida (Catamount), Bautista Heguy (Pony Express), Pite Merlos (Lechuza Caracas), Sebastian Merlos (Lechuza Caracas) and Adam Snow (Airstream).
Historically, the U.S. Open has always been the grand prize of polo in North
America. It is one of only four tournaments played at the 26-goal echelon,
the highest-rated tournament in the United States. The first U.S. Open title
game was played in 1904 at Van Cortland Park in New York City where the
Wanderers defeated the Freebooters 4 1/2-3, the lowest scoring final in the
history of the tournament.
General admission tickets are $15 and reserved terrace seating tickets are
$40 and and available at the gate on the day of the match. For ticket
information, please call International Polo Club Palm Beach at (561)
204-5687 or visit the website at
International Polo Club Palm Beach is located at 3667 120th Avenue South, between Pierson Road and Lake Worth Road in Wellington.