Grand Champions Polo Club
Black Watch stops undefeated Colorado in the final bracket day of Palm Beach Open
22nd March | Wellington, Florida
With the final bracket day concluded, WPL announced the semi-final draws for its Palm Beach Open
The final bracket day of Palm Beach Open witnessed Black Watch (Juan Cruz Merlos, 5, Nacho Figueras, 6, Pite Merlos, 8, Tommy Biddle, 5) upset undefeated Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Diego Cavanagh, 9, Jero Del Carril, 7) when they secured the victory with 8-6. Although Colorado had already made it into the semi-final, Black Watch blemished their Palm Beach Open’s unbeaten record.
Black Watch was in control of the match proceedings right from the beginning, never slipping on the lead throughout the match. They managed to shut down Colorado’s offense in the initial half, restricting them to 2 goals while registering 4 goals of their own. Colorado attempted a late comeback in the match but was unable to close up on Black Watch’s lead.
Pite Merlos’ superb performance secured him the MVP accolade.
Biddle led the scoring for Black Watch with four goals. Juan Cruz Merlos added three and Pite Merlos had one while playing a strong defensive game. For Colorado, Zubia scored thrice while Cavanagh and Del Carril contributed 2 and 1 goal(s) respectively.
In the other match of the day, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 2, Nic Roldan, 8, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Kris Kampsen, 6) lock horns with Alegria (Freddie Mannix, 8, Jesse Bray, 6, Gringo Colombres, 7, Juan Martin Obregon, 5). The cohesive offense of Audi, helmed by Roldan and MacDonough, saw them best the brilliant 5-goal performance from Juan Martin Obregon and co., winning the game 12-9.
Audi looked extremely sharp on the field in the first half, dominating their opponents 8-4 in the first half. Alegria was able to come up with a strong offense in the latter half, coming extremely close to level the scores in the fifth chukker.
Coming into the final chukker with a slight 9-8 lead, Audi solidified the victory by scoring thrice in the final minutes and won the match 12-9.
"This was a good tune-up for us," said Roldan. "Every game has been difficult for us in certain different ways. Today was good for us to work on our patience and focus.
"We knew this one was not going to be easy," Roldan said. "We knew we had to stick to our plan and what we know. We did. They got within one and we kept our composure and fought back, and got it to within three again."
"It was a really good tuneup," Kampsen said. "These guys go hard. They are four pros that play very well. We stayed with the system and didn't stress. We told ourselves not to overcommit or make mistakes."
"I think this game was important even though we were already in the semis," MacDonough said. "Going into the semis with a win against a team like this is good for the confidence, you keep your focus.”
"Alegria is a good team, a very balanced team," MacDonough said. "They have had some good games. It's very difficult to beat them so we are happy we did it. We put ourselves in a good position. We have good momentum going into the semis. I feel very good about our team's chances. We have a great team. It's good fun [to] play here."
In the handicap games on Wednesday, Flexjet plays Alegria at 11 a.m. at Jan Pamela Field 3 and Valiente will face Black Watch at 4 p.m. at Grand Champions Field One.
On Thursday in the open games, SD Farms (4-0) plays Grand Champions (3-1) at 11 a.m. at Valiente Field 2 and Audi (4-0) plays Colorado (3-1) at 4 p.m. at Valiente Field 3.
"It's now a knockout tournament with four really good teams," said Audi team sponsor Marc Ganzi. "It's going to be a very, very fun semifinal."
Added Audi's Kris Kampsen, "Anybody can win out of those four teams. The super-organized teams came through and I think at this level you have to be super organized. You can't have a weak horse. You can't have a weak player. You can't have anything in doubt."