By Alejandra Ocampo
Orchard Hill and Travieso qualified for the semifinals of the US Open after taking wins against Audi and Coca Cola, respectively. Mini quarterfinal matches also took place on Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Orchard Hill took a narrow 11-10 win over Audi while Travieso beat Coca Cola 12-10.
Therefore, Wednesday's semifinals will be as follows:
Valiente vs. Travieso
Orchard Hill vs. Flex Jet.
The second semi will be particularly interesting, as all four Ellerstina players will be on the field (Facundo and Polito Pieres for Orchard Hill and Gonzalito and Nico Pieres for Flex Jet).
In the opening game, title holders Orchard Hill dominated the first three chukkas against a talented Audi foursome. Led by the always powerful Facundo Pieres, Steve van Andel's team took a three goal advantage by half time (6-3).
However, Audi worked hard and outscored Orchard Hill in the next two chukkas. The defending champions had to fight hard to retain the lead; they held on to a narrow 7-6 advantage at the start of the last chukka.
The last chukka was very tough for both teams. They scored three goals a piece, which meant that Orchard Hill kept their advantage to claim the win and a place in the semifinals.
Score Orchard Hill: 2-1, 4-1, 6-3, 7-5, 8-7, 11-10
Orchard Hill: Facundo Pieres 8, Polito Pieres 3
Audi: Nic Roldán 5, Marc Ganzi 2, Alejandro Novillo Astrada 2, Magoo Laprida 1
Up next, Travieso also made it through to the semifinals, a great achievement in their US Open debut. It was a very close contest; the match was tied a several times but Coca Cola gained a slight advantage by half time.
Travieso took the lead in the fourth, thanks to goals from Sebastián Merlos and Mariano Gonzalez. Together, they scored ten out of the twelve goals for their team. Travieso had a 9-8 advantage at the start of the last, when Merlos scored to widen their lead (10-8). Coca Cola scored a couple of goals, but Travieso managed to tighten their attack. Merlos and Alfredo Cappella worked together to seal the 12-10 win which put Travieso in the semifinals. But their biggest challenge of the season awaits: Valiente.
Score Travieso: 1-1, 3-3, 5-6, 8-7, 9-8, 12-10
Travieso: Mariano Gonzalez 6, Sebastián Merlos 4, Alfredo Cappella 2
Coca Cola: Julián de Lusarreta 4, Julio Arellano 3, Miguel Novillo Astrada 2, Gillian Johnston 2
The semifinals are due on Wednesday, April 19:
11am: Flexjet vs. Orchard Hill
5pm: Valiente vs. Travieso