Audi Wins George Haas Cup Opener With New Lineup, Plays Flight Options On Thursday In Semifinals

Feb 18th, 2014 | By | Category: English Polo News

18th Feb 2014

Fred Mannix (4) of Audi stretches for the ball with teammate Marc Ganzi (1) backing him up and defending Gonzalito Pieres (2) of Tonkawa. Photo by Scott Fisher

WELLINGTON, FL-Feb. 16, 2014—-Playing one of its best games of the 2014 high goal polo season, Audi dominated Tonkawa from start to finish to win its opening game of the George Haas Cup Sunday at Everglades Polo Club.

The Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro team (Marc Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Nic Roldan, Fred Mannix) played with a new lineup with the addition of Lalor and Mannix. Team chemistry was evident from the opening chukker.

Audi led the entire game with a total team effort for a 10-6 victory over Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Gonzalito Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade, Matias Gonzalez).

Audi’s Marc Ganzi (2) defends against Tonkawa 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres. Photo by Scott Fisher

“This was Audi-style of polo today,” Ganzi said. “We never stopped on a ball, we never turned the ball. This is the way we like to play polo.

“I enjoy playing an open flowing game,” Ganzi said. “I don’t like to turn the ball, I don’t like to tap the ball. The problem with us all season was the extra tap has killed us. When we play open and all four of us are hitting and running to goal, it puts other teams on their heals. And that’s our style of polo, that’s always been the Audi style of polo.”

Audi now advances into Thursday’s semifinal round at 1 p.m. and will play Grand Champions sister pro team Flight Options headed by Melissa Ganzi. Marc Ganzi plans to sit down and their 15-year-old son Grant will compete for Audi for the remainder of the tournament.

Audi team captain Marc Ganzi (1) drives downfield past Rodrigo Andrade (3) of Tonkawa for one of his two second-half goals. Photo by Scott Fisher

In the other semifinal game, Faraway will play CT Energia at 3 p.m. The winners advance to Sunday’s noon championship game.

Audi got balanced scoring from all four of its players. Roldan led with a team-high four goals, including two on penalty shots. Mannix had three goals, Ganzi had two second-half goals and Lalor, who played well defensively, also had a goal.

Audi was looking to redeem itself and return to its winning ways after losing to Los Machitos/Heathcote, 12-11, in the Ylvisaker Cup. Audi had dominated most of the game but gave up four unanswered goals in the final 6:53 minutes and was denied a quarterfinal berth.

Umpire Horton Schwartz watches as Audi’s Lucas Lalor (2) hits downfield past a group that includes teammate Fred Mannix (4) and Tonkawa’s Gonzalito Pieres (2) and Matias Gonzalez (4). Photo by Scott Fisher

“We figured there were two weeks left in the 20-goal season and for the organization not to put a team in the quarters was unacceptable,” Ganzi said. “We decided to use the next two weeks to try some different combinations.

“Frederick and I have played high goal together for ten years. I think maybe we have lost one or two games in those ten years. We had good luck with our team Audi last year but this year the connection didn’t seem to work so this gave us a chance to try something different.”

Added Roldan, “We came out with a vengeance. It’s always tough to go in with a new team but we had fun. Everyone jelled and that was good.”

Audi’s Nic Roldan (3) maintains possession despite double teaming from Tonkawa. Photo by Scott Fisher

Since Roldan had played with Mannix and Lucas in the past there were no major adjustments to make.

“With a new team, we tried to keep it as simple as possible and stuck to that,” Roldan said. “You never really know you have the game won, but once we were up by four we felt good about our chances. We were playing pretty solid.”

Ten-goaler Gonzalito Pieres led Tonkawa with four goals, including two on penalty shots and Andrade added two.

Audi’s Nic Roldan (3) reaches for the ball while teammate Lucas Lalor (2) defends Rodrigo Andrade (3) of Tonkawa. Photo by Scott Fisher

Pieres and Andrade will team with Marc Ganzi on Audi for the 26-goal season that opens Friday with the first round of the C.V. Whitney Cup. Audi plays Valiente at 2 p.m. in one of four opening round games.

One of the highlights of Sunday’s game came in the second chukker when Mannix stole the ball and converted a 120-yard nearside shot to give Audi a 4-2 lead.

“It feels really good when you can do it with the white pants on in the middle of the game when you know you connect solid with the middle of the head connecting with the ball,” Mannix said. “I timed it in the right way where I was able to steal it and then I thought why not give it a try, the goal was open and I felt good.”

Fred Mannix (4) of Audi goes for the big hit despite defensive pressure from Tonkawa’s Jeff Hildebrand (1) and Matias Gonzalez (4). Photo by Scott Fisher

Mannix, Canada’s top pro and 2013 Argentine Open finalist with Alegria, seems to be a sparkplug for every team he plays with. He played the back position for Audi and was dominating on both ends of the field.

“I played a different position today,” Mannix said. “I have a strong hit so being in the back helps with the rhythm of the game and the knock-ins and free hits. That was a nice way to play.”

While Mannix had never played with Lalor before, he has played with Ganzi and Roldan and just finished the 20-goal season with Melissa Ganzi’s Flight Options team.

Audi’s Fred Mannix (4) keeps control of the ball despite defensive pressure from Matias Gonzalez (4) of Tonkawa. Photo by Scott Fisher

“It was fun to play with Marc, I have played with him before and we have had a lot of success,” Mannix said. “Nic and I have only played a few games and I have never played with Lucas but obviously the team is good. We had a great time out there. We’re all friends so that helps to be able to communicate with each other.

“Marc is a damn good 1-goal player and one of the best 1-goalers so that helps a lot,” Mannix said. “When you have a guy who can contribute on a four-man team it makes it a lot more fun to play, you can open up the field. Tonkawa was playing the opposite way, they were trying to close the game. It was fun for us to play, probably not as much fun for them to play.”

Audi teammates Lucas Lalor (2) and Marc Ganzi (1) race downfield with the ball with Tonkawa in pursuit. Photo by Scott Fisher

The tournament is named in honor of George Haas, a Hall of Famer and former president of the Gulfstream Polo Club. He won his first polo trophy at Yale in 1938 and for the next 62 years competed and won numerous tournaments including the Monty Waterbury Cup and Arena Sherman Memorial. He died in 2006 in his Lake Worth home at age 85.

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

Audi’s Lucas Lalor (2) works the ball off the sideboards with help from teammate Fred Mannix (4). Photo by Scott Fisher

2014 HIGH GOAL SEASON

JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 23: Wednesday, Semifinals, El Cabure vs. Lechuza Caracas, 1 p.m., Valiente vs. Las Monjitas, 3 p.m.; Sunday, Ylvisaker Cup Finals.

FEBRUARY 16-23: Thursday, Flight Options vs. Audi, 1 p.m.; Faraway vs. CT Energia, 3 p.m.; Sunday, George Haas Cup Final, noon.

FEBRUARY 21-MARCH 2: C.V. Whitney Cup-Friday, Orchard Hill vs. Lechuza Caracas, 10 a.m.; Crab Orchard vs. Flight Options, noon; Valiente vs. Audi, 2 p.m.; Alegria vs. Coca-Cola, 4 p.m.; FEB. 26, Semifinals 1, 3 p.m.; FEB. 27, Subsidiary semifinals, 1, 3 p.m.; MARCH 2, Subsidiary final noon, Championship Final, 3 p.m.

FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 8: Iglehart Cup-FEB. 28, CT Energia vs. Palm Beach Illustrated, 1 p.m.; Casablanca vs. Los Machitos/Heathcote, 3 p.m.; MARCH 5, Semifinals 1, 3 p.m.; MARCH 8, Final, 1 p.m.

MARCH 5-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup

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

GRAND CHAMPIONS @ PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)

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

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).

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).

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)

TUESDAY: USA vs. United Kingdom Juniors Game, 4 p.m.

MARCH 9: Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match, 10 a.m., benefitting the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington.

MARCH 17: Buzz Welker Memorial Tournament

APRIL 4-5: Fifth annual Gay Polo League International Tournament

APRIL 8-12: Women’s Championship Tournament

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB

WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.

INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Flight Options. Everyone is welcome to watch high, medium and low goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the winter, spring and fall tournament season and other special events including International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, ProKidz Tournaments in the spring and fall, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.

Source: Phelps Media Group