Coca-Cola 8-goaler Julio Arellano with the ball, Travieso’s Alfredo Capella Barabucci in pursuit. Arellano scored a game-high five goals for the win. (Photo by Alex Pacheco)

Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Julio Arellano and Miguel Astrada) ruined Travieso’s (Teo Calle, Alfredo Capella, Sebastian Merlos and Mariano Gonzalez) US Open debut at the International Polo Club Thursday afternoon as they recorded an 11-9 win in the opening round of play in the country’s most prestigious tournament.

The two teams traded goals in the first chukker with Julio Arellano opening with a 40-yard penalty conversion, 1-0.  Mariano Gonzalez countered with a 60-yard penalty shot to tie the game at 1-1.  Julian de Lusarreta and Sebastian Merlos exchanged goals from the field to end the opening chukker in a 2-2 deadlock.

A Coca-Cola explosion in the second period resulted in four unanswered goals as Coke dashed out to a 6-2 advantage.  Arellano converted another 40-yard penalty shot and de Lusarreta added his second goal from the field.  Miguel Novillo Astrada added two more goals while an impressive defensive effort by the Coca-Cola lineup held Travieso scoreless.

A third goal from de Lusarreta gave Coca-Cola a five goal lead as the third chukker got underway, but Travieso fought back.  Merlos and Travieso team captain Teo Calle scored single goals.  The first half ended with Coca-Cola in control of a 7-4 game.

Astrada opened the scoring in the fourth period with a goal from the field that put Coca-Cola on top, 8-4.  Gonzalez converted a 60-yard penalty shot for Travieso followed by Arellano’s third penalty goal of the game.  Gonzalez closed out the scoring in the chukker with a 30-yard penalty conversion, but Coca-Cola maintained a three goal lead, 9-6.

Arellano’s fourth goal of the day and first from the field had Travieso trailing by four goals, 10-6 in early fifth period action.  Gonzalez and Alfredo Capella Barabucci each added a goal, cutting the Coca-Cola lead down to two goals, 10-8.

A goal from the field in the sixth by Arellano was complimented by a disciplined defense.  Travieso was limited to a 30-yard penalty goal as Coca-Cola rode off with the 11-9 victory.

Arellano led all scoring with five goals (three on penalty shots).  Astrada and de Lusarreta scored three goals apiece for the win.  Gonzalez scored three of his team-high four goals on penalty conversions.  Merlos added three goals (one on a penalty shot) and Calle and Barabucci were each credited with a goal in the loss.

Flexjet 10, Audi 9

Earlier in the day, Flex Jet (Melissa Ganzi, Rodrigo Andrade, Gonzalito Pieres and Nico Pieres) won the “family feud” as Melissa Ganzi’s Flexjet team edged husband Marc Ganzi’s US Open Audi entry (Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Magoo Laprida)10-9.

Audi took the early 2-0 lead in first chukker play but Flexjet outscored them, 7-3 over the next two period and left the field at the end of the first half on top of a 7-5 score.

Audi continued to chase Flexjet through the final three chukkers of play but it was Flexjet with the 10-9 win.

Gonzalito Pieres led the field in scoring with six goals (four on penalty conversions).  Rodrigo Andrade and Nico Pieres each scored twice for the win.  Nic Roldan and Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored four goals each for Audi.  Marc Ganzi added a single goal in a losing effort.

US Open competition is scheduled to continue on Sunday, April 9th at the International Polo club beginning with an 11am game between Orchard Hill (Polito Pieres, Juan Chavanne, Facundo Pieres and Steve Van Andel).  At noon, Coca-Cola will face Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Diego Cavanagh and Adolfo Cambiaso) followed by a 3pm contest between Flexjet and Travieso.

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