FROM ONE CAMBIASO TO THE NEXT: SCONE STEALS GAUNTLET SPOTLIGHT WITH USPA GOLD CUP VICTORY
On Sunday, March 26, 2023, the second leg of the Gauntlet of Polo culminated in the USPAGold Cup Final. The distinguished competition found defending champions Pilot (Curtis Pilot,Matias Gonzalez, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Facundo Pieres) battling 2021 USPA Gold Cup victorsScone (David Paradice, Cody Ellis, Poroto Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling, sub. Tomas Panelo). Meetingfor the second time in the Gauntlet of Polo this year, the final offered an explosive rematch ofthe very first game of the C.V. Whitney Cupthat ultimately took Scone out of contention in thefirst leg of the series.
A low-scoring final, Scone’s fourth chukker momentum ultimately created enough space toward off threats of a Pilot comeback. As the final horn sounded, the team in red held to an 8-6lead, marking their first Gauntlet title since 2021. Along with the trophy, Scone was awarded$50,000 in prize money. The win also marked the continued Cambiaso domination across theGauntlet of Polo, as now both Adolfo and Poroto have stood atop thepodium this year.
Scone and Pilot’s paths to the final varied greatly. After winning their first game against Tamerain a narrow 9-8 victory, Scone hit the gas and didn’t look back, delivering decisive wins in the remainder of bracket play and the quarterfinals. 9-goaler Stirling sustained a groin injury prior to the quarterfinals and was replaced by 8-goaler Tomas Panelo in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final. Meshing well with the team, Panelo helped Scone defeat Dutta Corp/Show+ 14-10 to advance to the final.
Conversely, Pilot won their first game of bracket play against Dazos, but then fell to Aspen 12-11 in a surprise upset. The loss forced Pilot to earn their quarterfinal spot in playoff contentionagainst Two Trees by Jefferies, which they accomplished in a 10-5 victory. From there, Pilotdefeated C.V. Whitney Cup champions Valiente in the quarterfinals in a 13-12 nail-biter. ParkPlace attempted to end Pilot’s crusade, but Pilot rose again, defeating them 15-14 in the semifinals to earn a placein the final.
Speaking to Scone’s strategy entering the title match, Ellis commented, “The strategy obviously was high intensity, try to get Facundo when he doesn’t have the ball because when he’s got it, it’s very hard to take it away. And just trust in ourselves. We’ve got a pretty good system that we’ve been working on since the beginning, and I think it showed a little bit today that we can do it. So, for us, just confidence and give it everything”