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Orchard Hill Edges Flight Options To Win Bobby Barry Cup; Facundo Pieres Named MVP

Orchard Hill Edges Flight Options To Win Bobby Barry Cup; Facundo Pieres Named MVP
Facundo Pieres (3) of Orchard Hill chases Flight Options' Miguel Astrada (3) driving downfield with the ball. Photo by Scott Fisher

WELLINGTON, FL-Jan. 26, 2014----Grand Champions Polo Club-based Flight Options lost a heartbreaking 12-10 decision to Orchard Hill Sunday in the final of the Bobby Barry Cup.

Leading 10-9 early in the final chukker, Flight Options (Melissa Ganzi, Freddie Mannix, Miguel Astrada, Juan Bollini) was unable to build on its lead after Astrada put his team ahead with his third consecutive goal at the 7:02 mark.

Moments later after Flight Options missed another scoring opportunity, Orchard Hill (Steve Van Andel, Lucas Criado, Facundo Pieres, Marcos Alberdi) went to work.

Flight Options' Freddie Mannix (2) is double-teamed by Orchard Hill's Steve Van Andel (1) and Facundo Pieres (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

Pieres converted a penalty-two to tie the game at 10-10 with 5:02 left.

After Mannix got hit with a mallet and Orchard Hill was called for dangerous mallet play, Flight Options got the ball at midfield but was unable to capitalize.

The momentum shifted in Orchard Hill's favor when it regained possession after a penalty-five. Pieres worked the ball to Criado who made his way through a crowd of defenders to go ahead, 11-10 with 1:21 left.

Flight Options' Miguel Astrada (3) stays close to Orchard Hill's Facundo Pieres (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

Flight Options was unable to put a scoring drive together and Criado broke loose for another goal with 27 seconds left in the game.

"We played really well today," Flight Options coach Joey Casey said. "Facundo Pieres is tough to stop. That's a good team.

"We had chances, we could have won the game," Casey said. "We had some bad luck in the last part of the sixth chukker, hitting a couple horses. We were in it until the last minute. We made a foul and they went up one.

Freddie Mannix (2) of Flight Options reaches for his shot with Facundo Pieres (3) of Orchard Hill closely defending. Photo by Scott Fisher

"But as good as that team is we played well against them and could have beat them. Freddie made some incredible plays, a bunch of 10-goal plays."

Pieres led Orchard Hill with seven goals and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Criado's horse, Chiruza, was named Best Playing Pony.

"Facundo is a champion, he is a winner and we knew it would be tough against him," Mannix said. "Unfortunately, he got us at a terrible time where he stepped up and scored some nice goals on us.

Miguel Astrada (3) of Flight Options takes a pass from teammate Freddie Mannix (2) downfield. Photo by Scott Fisher

"That's the sport," Mannix said. "We tried our best. They are a very good team and we played well. It's a shame we don't have a good result. But if you can't stop Facundo, you're going to lose."

Criado added four goals and Alberdi had one.

Astrada scored a team-high seven goals including four on penalty shots for Flight Options. Bollini scored two goals and Mannix had one goal. Mannix was outstanding on defense marking Pieres well throughout the game.

"We did well, we had our chances," Astrada said. "We missed some plays and they had the ball more than us in the last three minutes of the game. We couldn't get the ball back and that was their defense.

Flight Options' Miguel Astrada (3) tries to get loose from defenders to find open field. Photo by Scott Fisher

"They are a very good team and I think we did very well against them," Astrada said. "Anyone could win. We had a chance to score in the last minute but they were able to score and hold the ball longer than us."

Flight Options will not have to wait long to avenge the loss. The teams will play again on Saturday at 1 p.m. in their opening game of the Ylvisaker Cup.

"We take away from this tournament that we are a good team, and that we can beat anybody on any day," Casey said. "We will try and build off of that and get better."

Added Mannix: "We know we can beat them. We could have won. Obviously, we can't let them take the knock-in and run down the field and score which they did three or four times."

Melissa Ganzi (1) of Flight Options, outnumbered by three defenders, manuevers her way to block Orchard Hill's Facundo Pieres (3). Photo by Scott Fisher

The 14-team, four-week Ylvisaker tournament, the third 20-goal tournament of the season, begins Thursday with Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi playing Las Monjitas at 3 p.m. Faraway plays Villa del Lago/Casablanca at 1 p.m.

Flight Options, one of the season's new polo team sponsors, is the world's second largest private aviation fleet that flies throughout the United States, Canada, northern Mexico, Cabo San Lucas and the Bahamas.

The subsidiary tournament is named after Bobby Barry, part of a long family tradition of pro polo as a highly-respected player and umpire. He competed around the world and was passionate about the game. He died on July 10, 2008.

Bobby Barry Cup awards ceremony with Flight Options players Juan Bollini, Miguel Astrada, Freddie Mannix and his daughter and Melissa Ganzi; Orchard Hill's Steve Van Andel, Lucas Criado, Facundo Pieres and Marcos Alberdi.
 Photo by Scott Fisher

In the Joe Barry Memorial Cup, also on Sunday, Valiente broke open a close game in the final chukker to defeate Tonkawa, 13-8, in a penalty-marred game that featured five technical fouls (Bob Jornayvaz, Roberto Zedda and Rodrigo Andrade with one each and Gonzalito Pieres with two.

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

Flight Options fans lining the field on a perfect weather day for polo.
Photo by Scott Fisher