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Coca-Cola Rallies To Beat Audi In Opening Game Of 109th Maserati U.S. Open

Coca-Cola  Rallies To Beat Audi In Opening Game Of 109th Maserati U.S. Open


WELLINGTON, FL-March 29, 2013---Audi dropped a 12-11 decision to Coca-Cola in the
opening game of the 109th Maserati U.S. Open Thursday in front of a packed crowd
 at International Polo Club Palm Beach.

David Lominska Audi team captain Marc Ganzi about to hit the ball downfield.

Audi team captain Marc Ganzi about to hit the ball downfield. Photo credit: David Lominska

In control for the first four chukkers, Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi led
 by many as four goals late in the third chukker (8-4) and maintained a three-goal
advantage in the fourth chukker.
Audi penalties and mental errors allowed Coca-Cola back in the game in the fifth
 chukker.
Audi, winners of the 2009 U.S. Open, is hoping to find its winning form before the
26-goal season ends next month. For four chukkers Audi did just that behind the
scoring and incredible passing of brothers Gonzalito and Nico Pieres and defense
 of American Jeff Hall.
Audi team captain Marc Ganzi returned to the lineup in the second half after 16-year-old
Juancito Bollini, a Wellington High senior, started the game and played well the
 first three chukkers defending Coca-Cola Gillian Johnston, one of only two women
in the high goal tournament.
Sugar Erskine started the Coca-Cola rally with a big pass to Julio Arellano who
cut Audi's lead to 10-8 with 4:44 left.
After a crucial Audi penalty, Sebastian Merlos hit a big shot downfield which Johnston
converted into a goal to trail by only one goal (10-9) at the 2:57 mark.



Nico Pieres missed two scoring opportunities late in the chukker including a missed
30-yard penalty shot and a third goal attempt to open the sixth chukker.
Coca-Cola grabbed the momentum with Erskine coming up with an incredible neck shot
to tie the game at 10-10.
Thirty seconds later, Hall came right back with a goal which was first waved wide
and then ruled good for an 11-10 Audi lead.
Erskine continued his hot hand taking control of the ball in a crowd and driving
 for another goal to tie the game at 11-11.
After both teams exchanged penalties, Merlos drove downfield to score what turned
out to be the winning goal with 3:09 remaining despite scoring attempts from Nico
and Gonzalito Pieres.
Bollini was bumped off his horse with 3:30 left in the second chukker but regained
his composure and returned to the game.
Hall and Nico Pieres each had four goals for Audi. Gonzalito Pieres, who had a strong
first half, finished with three goals and was shut out in the fifth and sixth chukkers.
Arellano, a Cardinal Newman and Florida Atlantic alum, led Coca-Cola with five goals
including three penalty shots. Erskine and Merlos each had three and Johnston added
one.

In Thursday's other U.S. Open game, Zorzal, behind Jason Crowder's five goals including
two in the sixth chukker, defeated ERG, 10-8. ERG team captain Scott Wood did not
play and was replaced by 16-year-old Wesley Bryan.
Grand Champions Polo Club-based Piaget will play Lechuza Caracas Saturday in its
 first U.S. Open game at 2 p.m. Piaget is led by 10-goalers Sapo Caset and Miguel
Astrada
There are three brackets. Audi is in bracket one with Coca-Cola, Zorzal, ERG and
 Valiente, the only other team with two 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso and Pelon Stirling.
Piaget is in bracket two with Faraway and Orchard Hill. The third bracket is Lechuza
Caracas, Alegria and Zacara.
The teams in bracket one will play within the bracket with the best four teams,
by record, advancing to the quarterfinals. The teams in bracket two and three will
play cross-bracket, with the best four out of all six teams, by record, also advancing
into the quarters.
Zacara, led by 10-goaler Facundo Pieres and coming off its USPA Gold Cup loss to
 Valiente, is defending U.S. Open champion.
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.

David Lominska Grand Champions Polo ClubAudi 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres keeps possession of the ball despite pressure from
Coca-Cola's Julio Arellano. Photo credit: David Lominska

For the first half of the 20th century the U.S. Open Polo Championship was hosted
in the northeast, primarily at Meadowbrook Polo Club. In 1954, the U.S. Open moved
to Oakbrook Polo Club, outside of Chicago, where it stayed until 1978.
The next eight U.S. Opens were hosted by Retama Polo Club in San Antonio where Memo
Gracida won the first of his record 16 wins. In 1987, the U.S. Open was played at
El Dorado Polo Club in Palm Springs. The next four were played at Horsepark in Lexington,
Ky.
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.
AUDI/PIAGET U.S. OPEN SCHEDULE
Saturday, March 30, Piaget vs. Lechuza Caracas, 2 p.m.
Sunday, March 31, Audi vs. Zorzal, noon.
Thursday, April 4, Audi vs. Valiente, 2 p.m.
Friday, April 5, Piaget vs. Alegria, 4 p.m.
Sunday, April 7, Audi vs. ERG, noon.
Thursday, April 11, Piaget vs. Zacara, 10 a.m.
Sunday, April 14, Quarterfinals
Wednesday, April 17, Hall of Fame Cup, semifinal; U.S. Open Semifinals, 2 and 4
p.m.
Saturday, April 20: Hall of Fame Cup final, 4 p.m.
Sunday, April 21: Maserati U.S. Open final, 3 p.m.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.