A newly formed second UAE team, UAE Polo Pod, made their debut in the Gold Cup for the British Open Championship on Friday against King Power at Manor Farm. Scoring on the final play of the match, Alfredo Cappella led UAE Polo Pod the narrow 11-10 victory over King Power.
A game featuring swings in momentum, King Power held the early advantage with an efficient performance in open play but fell victim to inaccurate shooting for the remainder of the game, allowing UAE Polo Pod to fight their way into the lead. Along with the game-winning goal, Cappella was a standout player for UAE Polo Pod, leading all players with seven goals while also adding two assists. Decided by the smallest of margins, UAE Polo Pod’s advantage from the penalty line, converting four of their six attempts was ultimately the difference in the hard-fought win.
Winning the first throw-in and taking it directly to goal to score just 12 seconds into the game, Hilario Ulloa gave King Power the quick lead and the remainder of the opening chukka displayed a relentless King Power attack. Producing seven shots at goal, King Power extended their lead further to three after Hugo Lewis added his first goal, returning to the line-up after missing the last tournament. Foul trouble in the second chukka slowed King Power’s momentum and allowed UAE Polo Pod’s Cappella to produce a run of four unanswered goals, three from the penalty line to quickly bring the game even at 4-all. After jack Richardson opened scoring in the third chukka, King Power reorganized and relied on their duo of Ulloa and Elizalde to retake the lead and enter halftime holding a slim 6-5 advantage.
Jumping on a loose ball and converting a neckshot just 40 seconds into the second half, Jack Richardson tied the score and left UAE Polo Pod and King Power on even footing with nearly three full chukkas left to determine the winner. Ulloa and Cappella traded field goals for their respective teams in a fast, open style of polo but missed opportunities around goal resulted in no further scoring and the teams remaining tied. In arguably the most crucial chukka of the game, the UAE Polo Pod defense prevented King Power from scoring in the fifth chukka and resulted in them pulling ahead by two. Forcing a turnover, UAE Polo Pod’s Cappella left the ball in front of goal for Lucas Monteverde Jr and then quickly followed with a Penalty 2 conversion, leaving their team just one chukka away from victory, but a dramatic finish left the outcome in doubt. Led by two goals from Elizalde, King Power erased the two-goal deficit in a matter of minutes. The score swung back and forth with Elizalde adding his third goal of the chukka to leave the scoreboard at 10-10 inside the final two minutes. Stealing the ball off the throw-in, Cappella worked the ball downfield and eventually found his way to goal as time ran out and UAE Polo Pod celebrated the 11-10 victory.