Ellerston wins Spain’s Gold Cup in OT, 18-17
Facundo Pieres sweeps the European high-goal season
By Alex Webbe
Ten-goaler Facundo Pieres registered an unprecedented sweep of the European high-goal season with wins in the Queens Cup and British Open, and Spain’s Silver and Gold Cups at the Santa Maria Polo Club at Sotogrande, Spain with a nail-biting 18-17 overtime win by Ellerston (Alie Patterson, Gonzalito Pieres, Facundo Pieres and Johnny Williams) over UAE (Tommy Beresford, Santi Stirling, Lucas Monteverde and Sebastian Merlos).
In a penalty-ridden contest that saw 21 of the 35 goals scored come on penalty conversions, The UAE lineup was solidly more balanced, but the skill and horsepower of the Pieres brothers, Facundo and Gonzalito, won out in the end.
Facundo Pieres scored the first goal of the game just over a minute into the match, but a well-played ball by UAE’s Tommy Beresford tied it up at 1-1 less than two minutes later. Santi Stirling gave UAE the lead, 2-1, with his first goal of the game at the three minute mark. A pressing Ellerston attack resulted in a number of fouls which Facundo Pieres capitalized as he closed out the chukker with three consecutive penalty conversions for a 4-2 lead.
Lucas Monteverde cut the Ellerston lead to a single goal on a 40-yard penalty conversion of his own just two minutes into the second period. Stirling tied it up at 4-4 at the 3:40 mark, but a 60-yard penalty conversion by Facundo Pieres kept Ellerston in the lead, 5-4 going into the third chukker.
Three minutes into the third period, Sebastian Merlos tied it up for UAE, 5-5, with his first goal on the day. Facundo Pieres responded with another 60-yard penalty conversion. Merlos tied it up again with a goal from the field 90 seconds later, 6-6. A spot penalty allowed Facundo Pieres to put Ellerston back in the lead, 7-6, on a short penalty conversion. UAE’s Stirling took the ensuing throw-in and raced down the field to score the tying goal, 7-7, as time expired in the first half of play.
The UAE defense continued to swarm both Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres, attempting to keep them from backing one another up, and leaving the balance of the offense to Johnny Williams and Ali Patterson. Merlos gave UAE their first lead since the opening chukker with a goal from the field in the opening minutes of the second half, 8-7. Stirling’s fourth goal of the game stretched the lead to two goals, 9-7. Facundo Pieres and Monteverde exchanged penalty goals, with UAE holding the two goal lead, 10-8. Another penalty conversion by Facundo Pieres went up on the scoreboard with just over a minute left in the chukker, 10-9, but Merlos scored his second goal of the chukker as UAE left the field with an 11-9 advantage.
The Pieres brothers continued to draw a crowd as they attempted to jump start their offense. Efforts by teammates Williams and Patterson came too rarely and accomplished little, but Ellerston continued to press their attack.
Less than a minute into the fifth chukker an Ellerston foul sent Monteverde to the penalty line where he converted a 40-yard shot for a goal, and UAE found themselves in front by three goals, 12-9. Merlos quickly followed Monteverde’s goal up with his fifth of the day, and UAE found themselves sitting on top of a four point spread, 13-9, but Ellerston wasn’t ready to roll over. Fouling efforts by the UAE defenders returned Facundo Pieres to the penalty line where he converted consecutive shots to cut the lead back to two goals, 13-11. Monteverde converted a 60-yard Safety, 14-11, but Facundo Pieres controlled the balance of the scoring in the chukker with two more penalty conversions and a gaol from the field for a 14-14 tie with one chukker left in regulation play.
The scoring onslaught continued into the sixth, with Monteverde opening the chukker with a go-ahead goal from the field in the opening seconds of play, 15-14. Gonzalito Pieres tied it at 15-15 with his first goal on the afternoon. Monteverde gave the lead back to UAE on a 30-yard penalty shot, 16-15, and the battle continued. Facundo Pieres converted a 60-yard penalty shot for another deadlock, 16-16. Monteverde scored from the field for a 17-16 UAE edge. Facundo Pieres tied it up with time running out on a penalty goal for the 17-17 tie, forcing sudden-death overtime.
The pressure was on both teams in the extra chukker, and unfortunately for UAE, t was a penalty that sent Facundo Pieres to the penalty line one last time. He converted the shot at goal, his seventeenth goal of the day, and the entire Ellerston team erupted in celebration.
The victory gave Facundo Pieres his fourth European high-goal title, and allowed him an unprecedented sweep of the 2013 summer season. His seventeen goals set a scoring record for the Hublot Gold Cup, and extended a winning streak that dates back to April’s United States Open Championship.
Facundo Pieres led the field with seventeen goals (fourteen on penalty conversions) with brother Gonzalito Pieres adding a goal from the field. Monteverde scored six of his team high seven goals on penalty shots. Merlos scored five times from the field with Stirling accounting for four goals in a losing effort.
Merlos was named MVP while Gonzalo Pieres’ mare Indultada, played by Facundo Pieres, received Best Playing Pony honors.