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Audi Defeats Coca-Cola In 110th Maserati U.S. Open; Plays Flight Options On Thursday

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Audi Defeats Coca-Cola In 110th Maserati U.S. Open; Plays Flight Options On Thursday
Audi's Gonzalito Pieres (3) hits a tail shot downfield. Photo by Scott Fisher
WELLINGTON, FL-April 7, 2014----Audi bounced back from its tournament-opening loss to hold off upset-minded Coca-Cola with an 11-10 victory Sunday and remained alive in the 110th Maserati U.S. Open at International Polo Club Palm Beach.Audi was in control for four chukkers with a five-goal lead (11-6) late in the fourth chukker with six goals by 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres, three goals by Rodrigo Andrade and two by team captain Marc Ganzi.
Sebastian Merlos (2) of Coca-Cola tries to maintain possession despite defensive pressure from Audi teammates Marc Ganzi (1) and Gonzalito Pieres (3). Photo by Scott Fisher
But in the last two chukkers, Coca-Cola scored four unanswered goals including three by Gillian Johnston, and held Audi scoreless in the last two chukkers. Pieres and Andrade's outstanding defensive plays stalled Coca-Cola's final scoring attempt."Thankfully we hung on," Ganzi said. "That's all we can hope for is to continue to hang on and improve. We have to get better.
Audi's Marc Ganzi (1) keeps the pressure on Sebastian Merlos of Coca-Cola (2). Photo by Scott Fisher
"This win was everything. It was the whole season. If we lost today we put ourselves on the brink of extinction. Now we have a chance to continue to fight and hopefully classify in a good position."Audi (1-1) missed scoring opportunities in the sixth chukker with five shots on goal."We didn't play poorly today," Ganzi said. "Imagine two of those goals go in and what are we talking about? We are talking about a three or four goal win for us.
Audi team captain Marc Ganzi (1) drives downfield for one of his two goals of the game. Photo by Scott Fisher
"We played four really good chukkers of polo and we played two really bad chukkers of polo," Ganzi said. "Today there was a little fool's gold being up five goals. We had everything going right."It's been the story of our team the whole season. Last game we played three really good chukkers and three really bad chukkers. We need to figure out how to put six chukkers together in a game.
Rodrigo Andrade (4) of Audi hitting the ball out of the air with Facundo Obregon (4) of Coca-Cola trying to chase him down. Photo by Scott Fisher
"We just have to continue to play chukker by chukker. We have the potential to play really well. When we are spreading teams out we are pretty dangerous. When we play bunched-up polo and not taking care of the man we are not particularly dangerous."Everything they got was off of penalties. Gillian got one good goal from the field off a throw-in that she moved around and made a great play. She's got great horses. A lot of credit to her she helped lead her team back."On Thursday, Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro teams Audi and Flight Options will play at 4 p.m. The game will pit Ganzi against his wife Melissa, team captain of Flight Options.
Gonzalito Pieres (3) of Audi battles Julio Arellano (3) of Coca-Cola for the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher
"This was important for us to win, we are still in the U.S. Open," Pieres said. "Whenever you are five or six goals up, the next goals are not going to be for you for sure. We are getting closer to playing six good chukkers, we just have to keep playing as a team."Flight Options lost to Alegria, 7-6, in Sunday's second game. Alegria's Julian Mannix was named Most Valuable Player. Arroba Digital owned by Miguel Novillo Astrada of Flight Options was awarded Best Playing Pony.
Audi 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres (2) backs the ball away from defender Sebastian Merlos (3) of Coca-Cola as he tries to turn his horse. Photo by Scott Fisher
Audi (Marc Ganzi, Gonzalo del Tour, Gonzalito Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade) is 1-1 after losing its first game to Alegria, 10-8. Flight Options (Melissa Ganzi, Eduardo Novillo Astrada, Miguel Novillo Astrada, Alejandro Novillo Astrada)  is 0-2.The U.S. Open Polo Championship, first played in 1904 at Van Courtland Park, celebrated 100 years in 2004. It is one of three major polo tournaments worldwide along with the British and Argentine Opens. It is also the third jewel of U.S. polo's 26-goal Triple Crown that includes the C.V. Whitney Cup and USPA Piaget Gold Cup.
Gonzalito Pieres (3) of Audi drives downfield, outracing defender Julio Arellano (3) of Coca-Cola. Photo by Scott Fisher
Since 1996, the U.S. Open has been held in South Florida. In 2005, Julio Gracida added to the Gracida family's combined record of 36 U.S. Open Polo Championship wins.For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org.Game video and live webcasts can also be seen at PoloNow Network at http://www.polonow.tv/.
Rodrigo Andrade (4) of Audi drives downfield with backup from teammate Gonzalito Pieres (3). Photo by Scott Fisher
2014 HIGH GOAL SEASONMARCH 30-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships:  THURSDAY: Audi vs. Flight Options 4 p.m.; SUNDAY: Quarterfinals; APRIL 16: Semifinals; APRIL 20: Hall of Fame Cup Final, U.S. Open final.GRAND CHAMPIONS AT PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)APRIL: MONDAY, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament, Palm Beach Equine vs. Casablanca, final, 11 a.m.; 6-17, USPA The National President's Cup, 16-17, Las Acacias (5-goal); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goal); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16-goal).GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)APRIL 8-12: Women's Championship TournamentGRAND CHAMPIONS 2014 SPRING SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)APRIL 17-19: Grand Champions CupAPRIL 24-27: The USPA Spring ChallengeMAY 1-4: The USPA Sun CupMAY 8-11: The USPA Eastern ChallengeMAY 15-18: The Polo Gear Challenge CupMAY 22-26: The MemorialGRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUBWHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Flight Options. Everyone is welcome to watch high, medium and low goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the winter, spring and fall tournament season and other special events including International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, ProKidz Tournaments in the spring and fall, Women's Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.
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