This year’s Ylvisaker Cup has been a different animal than many high-goal tournaments—and that’s all to the good. Undefeated Tonkawa has been the strongest, but as Valiente’s Santi Torres put it, “The margins have been very close. You can go to any of these game and have no idea who’s going to win.”
Bracket play ended Thursday with a flurry of six games, followed by penalty shootouts. Travieso, Prestige Worldwide, Coca-Cola, Audi and Carillon Miami are out. The departure of Carillon Miami was perhaps the most surprising outcome because the team (playing as Modere) was a finalist in the 2018 Joe Barry Cup.
The quarterfinals are tomorrow, February 25, at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC): Tonkawa v. La Indiana and Postage Stamp Farm v. Colorado (both at 10 a.m.); Valiente v. SD Farms at noon, and Pilot v. GSA at 3 p.m. Here’s a recap of their final bracket games earlier this week and a look at tomorrow’s quarterfinals.
On Thursday GSA defeated Postage Stamp Farm 11-10, scoring all of their 11 goals from the field. Matias Magrini and Mariano Gonzalez stayed in the back more, content to allow Henry Porter and Dylan Rossiter to attack downfield, which they did quite handily. Aguerre has led the way from the field for Postage Stamp with seven goals through three games, while overall the team has relied heavily on penalty goals, averaging five per game.
Sunday in the quarters Pilot will need to contain Porter, who at a 2-goal handicap has played outstandingly all season. Porter made five fields goals in GSA’s victory over Postage Stamp. He has been GSA’s stealth weapon, leading the team with nine goals and 13 shots on goal. His 10 throw-in wins make Porter second to Magrini (11).
GSA has their work cut out for them Sunday against double Pieres-powered Pilot. Curtis Pilot’s bold experiment (putting 19 of his team’s 20 goals in two players, Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres) has been outrageously successful. They stand 3-1 going into the quarters; their only loss was by a single goal. Facundo is the tournament leader with the most total goals (25) and the most field goals (18). He ranks third in throw-in wins (21). GSA will have to contain them from breaking away for runs on their speed demon horses. GSA’s Magrini and Gonzalez (both 7-goalers) play a slower style than the Pieres brothers, which can allow the Piereses to build their attack.
Undefeated all season, Tonkawa took Coca-Cola 8-6 in a very slow, odd game with only one total foul. After Julio Arellano broke two fingers and was subbed out, Coca-Cola seemed resigned to a Tonkawa win. Coca-Cola looked a bit lost without their leader, and they will need to regroup for the next tournament. Throughout the Ylvisaker they have struggled to score, averaging around six goals per game, lowest in the tournament.
In their game against Coca-Cola, Tonkawa Patron Jeff Hildebrand played notably well up front, making three goals and adding another dimension to an already strong team. And of course, the combo of Sapo Caset and Julian de Lusarreta has been nearly unstoppable.
In the quarterfinals Tonkawa faces La Indiana in a rematch of the 2018 Joe Barry semifinal. Tonkawa blew out La Indiana 17-9, using the most impressive offensive display of the season. They capitalized on quick passes and runs from Caset to create breakaway after breakaway. To repeat that performance Sunday, they will have to contain Toro Ruiz in open play and keep Facundo Obregon away from Caset.
After a winless Joe Barry Cup, SD Farms defeated Carillon Miami 10-9 in their final bracket game in the Ylvisaker. It was an extremely close game from start to finish, with the teams duplicating each other’s stats (10 shots on goal; 4/6 success on penalties). At the close of the fifth chukker Carillon Miami led 9-7, but SD Farms eclipsed them in the sixth, taking the game by one goal.
Compared to their performance in the Joe Barry Cup, SD Farms has been much more effective in the Ylvisaker in almost every area, shooting 51% (36% in the Joe Barry), while improving penalty shooting from 50% to 62%. Iñaki Laprida has really stepped up in the Ylvisaker, averaging 5.0 goals per game and 6.2 throw-in wins. He has been the key to SD Farms’ success as he has been much more offensive, leaving Peco Polledo in the back of the game. The Achilles heel for SD Farms has been penalty shooting, but Laprida has improved, going 12-for-16 in the Ylvisaker.
In a shootout for first seed SD Farms lost to Pilot, but their win over Carillon Miami secured a top two seed. SD faces a very difficult match-up with Valiente tomorrow, where they will need to pressure Adolfo Cambiaso and cover Bautista Panelo downfield. Getting through the blocking of Torres will be key because if Cambiaso is given space, he will beat any team.
The game Thursday was a must-win for Travieso, who put one of their best performances of the season with a complete team effort, defeating Valiente 12-9. Sebastian Merlos was exceptional once again, driving to goal with possession and effectively covering Adolfo Cambiaso. With Cambiaso focused so heavily on Merlos, the rest of the Travieso team really stepped up. Tomas Garcia del Rio was a steady presense defensively. Both Tony and Teo Calle picked up passes in the frontand ferried them to goal, which helped stretch the field.
Twelve-for-14 shooting from Travieso was critical as they took advantage of every opportunity, which you have to do against Valiente. However, for the second straight tournament, Travieso lost in a shootout for the final spot in the quarterfinals.
Valiente was already through to the quarterfinals, so they played conservatively to preserve their horses. They struggled to generate offense, with Bautista Panelo and Santi Torres making five goals combined and Cambiaso contributing four. In Sunday’s game against SD Farms, Cambiaso will be heavily focused on stopping Iñaki Laprida. Offensively, Cambiaso will look to create more offense with effective blocking from Torres. The key could be Torres and Panelo matching up against Adam Snow and Peco Polledo.
In a must-win final bracket game La Indiana survived a sustained push from Prestige Worldwide for an 11-8 victory. The key to their success this year has been the work of Toro Ruiz on the attack, while Facundo Obregon’s aggressive style of defense continues to frustrate opponents. La Indiana uses a passing style of attack that can lead to quick offense and breakaway runs. Their concerted style wore down the Prestige Worldwide defense in their game, as Miguel Novillo Astrada was left deciding between offense and covering defensively.
Losing the shootout was costly for La Indiana, as they must face Tonkawa again. (The Joe Barry semifinal was a blowout in favor of Tonkawa, who defeated them 17-9). Sunday Jeff Hall will need to have a bigger impact offensively, while Ruiz and Obregon will really need to pressure Sapo Caset on the ball.
La Indiana will need to use their passing attack to create an offense, getting past the stonewall backline of Caset and Julian de Lusarreta and preventing Caset from getting into open space. Sterling Giannico is good at creating problems for his opponents, so the La Indiana defense will need to cover him downfield.
Pilot has looked like the team everyone expected them to be this season, and their match against Colorado showed the proficiency of the two-man game of Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres. They blocked non-stop for each other, using numerous lay-offs and runs to frustrate Colorado.
Colorado almost tried to duplicate the style of Pilot, with Diego Cavanagh and Juan Britos playing a slow tapping game. But Pilot put up a strong defense and created turnovers to lead to an offense of their own. Foul trouble was a bit of an issue as Colorado struggled to defend against the possession attack of the Piereses.
Winning a shootout against La Indiana for third seed, Colorado plays Postage Stamp Farm in the quarters. Cavanagh and Britos are the obvious key players, and they have worked well together. They will need to avoid foul trouble, as Postage Stamp Farm has been able to draw a lot of penalties in the Ylvisaker Cup. In their match-up in the Joe Barry Cup, Colorado pulled away in the final chukker to win 13-11, so expect another close game Sunday.
Cover Photo by PoloChannel
All Other Photos by David Lominska