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Audi Wins Physical Battle Against CT Energia

Audi Wins Physical Battle Against CT Energia, 11-10, In Ylvisaker Cup; Flight Options Plays Sunday
Carlitos Gracida (2) of Audi bumps and hooks Nic Manifold (4) of CT Energia. Photo by Scott Fisher

WELLINGTON, FL-Feb. 7, 2014----Audi returned to its winning ways on Friday to remain alive in the Ylvisaker Cup.

In a hotly-contested, physical battle, Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi (Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Nic Roldan, Nico Pieres) defeated CT Energia (Alessandro Bazzoni, Kris Kampsen, Joao Paulo Ganon, Nic Manifold), 11-10, at rain-soaked Isla Carroll East.

Audi rebounded from its 13-10 tournament-opening loss to Las Monjitas to even its record to 1-1 in bracket play.

"We played much better," said Audi coach and Hall of Famer Carlos Gracida. "They missed a lot of chances. The ground was heavy and very difficult to run with the ball. It was very, very wet and made the game a little bit too rough.

"Audi was better organized today," Gracida said. "Without being arrogant, we should have won by five goals. They just missed too many chances."

Joao Paulo Ganon (3) of CT Energia goes for the ball with Nic Roldan (3) of Audi defending. Photo by Scott Fisher

Roldan scored a game-high eight goals including three penalty shots. Pieres added two goals.

"Today we just played Audi polo," Roldan said. "The old Audi team is back. Today was a good day.

"First, we were cool, calm and collected which is very important on our team. The moment we get all hot-headed, we start making mistakes. The idea was to stay calm. If we all stay calm, we are a different team.

"We were patient, we didn't make stupid mistakes and we made our penalty shots," Roldan said. "We played solid and tried to minimize our mistakes. Marc and Carlitos played well and Nico played great."

Audi's Nic Roldan (3) calmly discusses a call with the umpire. Photo by Scott Fisher

The game was physical from the opening chukker where Audi fell behind early, 3-1, after missing two scoring opportunities.

A wet, slippery field was challenging for both teams throughout the game.

Kampsen tumbled off his horse early in the second chukker when his horse lost its footing on the wet field prompting Audi team captain Marc Ganzi to tell the umpires if one more player went down, both teams would be leaving the field.

A wet, slippery field sends Kris Kampsen (2) of CT Energia and his pony to the ground. Both were fine and returned to the game. Photo by Scott Fisher

"The field was a disaster," Roldan said. "When the field is choppy like that, it gets rough. The field wasn't great but both teams were in the same situation."

With CT Energia leading 6-4 after three Bazzoni goals, Audi started digging itself out of a hole in the third chukker. Audi outscored CT Energia, 4-1, to take an 8-7 halftime lead.

The seesaw battle continued in the second half with CT Energia tying the game at 8-8. Audi regained the lead (9-8) on Pieres penalty shot and increased its lead to 10-8 on a penalty-one.

Despite pressure from Kris Kampsen (2) of CT Energia, Nic Roldan (3) of Audi keeps the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher

Kampsen's short goal brought CT Energia to within one goal (10-9) but Roldan's penalty goal at 1:46 extended Audi's lead to 11-9 which later proved to be the winning goal.

"I think we should have won by a few more goals, we missed a lot of easy goals," Roldan said. "We kept putting the pressure on them and their backs to the game."

In the final two minutes of the game, two Audi players were injured but remained in the game.

Audi's Marc Ganzi (1) goes for the hook as Kris Kampsen (2) of CT Energia tries to hit the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher

Gracida was hit on the hand with a mallet. Seconds later Ganzi, who returned to the lineup after missing the Las Monjitas game, escaped serious injury when he went down after a CT Energia player rode out of line, knocking him off his horse and bruising his right leg.

Despite a long, heated discussion between players and officials after the play, a penalty two was awarded to CT Energia after reviewing the video. Kampsen converted a penalty two for the final goal of the game.

Bazzoni scored five goals for CT Energia. Kampsen had three goals and Ganon added two.

Kris Kampsen (2) of CT Energia tries to avoid the foul as Audi's Nic Roldan (3) backs the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher

Audi plays Los Machitos/Heathcote on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

On Sunday, Grand Champions sister pro team Flight Options (Melissa Ganzi, Freddie Mannix, Miguel Astrada, Juan Bollini) plays Villa del Lago/Casablanca (Jim Zenni, Polito Pieres, Agustin Obregon, Inaki LaPrida) at noon.

The third 20-goal tournament of the season, named after William "Bill" Ylvisaker, features fourteen teams including defending champion Coca-Cola.

"Every team is tough," Roldan said. "Every team is super well-mounted. There isn't a bad team in this tournament."

Audi's Marc Ganzi (1) and Nic Manifold (4) of CT Energia charge downfield after the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher

Ylvisaker was the founder of the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. An avid polo player rated as high as seven goals, Ylvisaker won three U.S. Open Championships, two Coronation Cups, the Gold Cup and earned several national and international honors.

Ylvisaker founded the Polo Training Foundation in 1967 to teach and help develop young polo players. He was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 1994. He died in Wellington on Feb. 6, 2010 at age 85.

For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org.

Audi's Nico Pieres (4) maintains possession of the ball despite defensive pressure from Alessandro Bazzon (1) of CT Energia. Photo by Scott Fisher


JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 23: Ylvisaker Cup-Sunday, Flight Options vs. Villa del Lago/Casablanca, noon; Feb. 12, Audi vs. Los Machitos/Heathcote, 4 p.m.; Feb. 13, Flight Options vs. Lechuza Caracas, 1 p.m.; Feb 16, Quarterfinals; Feb. 19, Semifinals; Feb. 23, George Haas Cup Final, noon; Ylvisaker Cup Finals.

FEBRUARY 14: National Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

FEBRUARY 15: Outback 40-Goal Challenge, 3 p.m.

FEBRUARY 16-MARCH 2: C.V. Whitney Cup

FEBRUARY 22-MARCH 8: Iglehart Cup

MARCH 5-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup

MARCH 26-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships

Nico Pieres (4) of Audi keeps the ball away from defender Joao Paulo Ganon (3) of CT Energia. Photo by Scott Fisher


FEBRUARY: Halo Polo Trophy (5 Goals); USPA Cyril R. Harrison Trophy; USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy; Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo.

MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5 goals); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; USPA Regional President's Cup (8 goals); $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals); Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo.

APRIL: Las Acacias (5 goals); USPA Association Cup (8 goals); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goals); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16 goals); Friday Night Under The Lights Arena Polo.

Audi's Nico Pieres (4) dribbles away from hard-charging Kris Kampsen (2) of CT Energia. Photo by Scott Fisher