By Alex Webbe
The opening match of the 26-goal season, the opening match of the 2013 C. V. Whitney Cup lived up to its expectations as Zacara narrowly beat Valiente 8-7 in one of the most exciting games of the year.

Although it might have been low-scoring by some standards it was action-packed from the opening throw-in. Zacara took the field in Tuesday’s 3pm contest as the winner of the 2012 U. S. Open Championship, with every member of last year’s team returning. Ten-goaler Facundo Pieres would join team captain Lyndon Lea, Magoo Laprida and Mike Azzaro. Valiente saddled up with 10-goalers Pelon Stirling, Adolfo Cambiaso and a talented young 6-goaler named Santi Torres to join Bob Jornayvaz for the 2013 winter 26-goal season.

The teams exchanged runs up and down the field for the opening two minutes of play until a Valiente foul sent Facundo Pieres to the penalty line where he converted the shot for the opening goal of the game. Three minutes later Lyndon Lea made put Zacara ahead 2-0 as he carried the ball through the Valiente goal posts for the final goal of the chukker.

Magoo Laprida made it 3-0 with the first goal of the second period before Valiente could respond. Adolfo Cambiaso finally got Valiente on the scoreboard with a penalty conversion, and added a goal from the field in the final 18 seconds of the period. Zacara continued to lead, but the margin had been cut to a single goal, 3-2. The pace of play continued to escalate in a physically pounding theme in third chukker action and both defenses dug in. With just over two minutes left in the chukker, Laprida scored to give Zacara a two goal lead, 4-2. Cambiaso took advantage of a Zacara foul and converted the penalty shot for a goal. Zacara rode off the field with the lead, but a resilient Valiente attack kept it at just one goal, 4-3.

A refocused Valiente team returned to the field for the second half and put immediate pressure on the Zacara defense. A defensive foul sent Torres back to the penalty line where he converted the shot for the tying goal, 4-4. Cambiaso followed it up with another penalty goal just a minute later for Valiente’s first lead of the day, 5-4. With just 43 seconds in the chukker Pieres scored to knot it up once again at 5-5.

Laprida scored in the first 20 seconds of the fifth period, but Torres countered with a penalty shot that leveled it at 6-6. Cambiaso closed out the chukker with a go-ahead goal for a 7-6 lead and one chukker left in regulation time. Just a minute into the final chukker Pieres scored the tying goal, 7-7 on a shot from the field, as both teams continued to fight for control of the match. Time continued to run down on the clock when a Zacara player broke loose and headed toward the Valiente goal. A whistle was blown and Zacara was awarded a penalty shot. A vocal appeal from Cambiaso was whistled and a technical penalty was called. With 51 seconds on the clock, Cambiaso continued to question the call and was hit with a second technical penalty, forcing him to leave the field for the balance of the period. Pieres converted the initial penalty shot for a goal and when lining up for the subsequent penalty shot, decided to take it to the corner of the field.

“I was hoping to run off time,” he said, “drive the ball into the corner of the field and then lift it up over the sideboards,” Facundo offered after the game. “My horse turned sideways and I lost control of the ball,” he said. With four players (Zacara) playing against three (Cambiaso was ejected from the game), Pieres assumed that he would be able to deftly lift the ball up over the fence and watch the time run out in the match, but Valiente had other ideas. Stirling fought for possession of the ball and then made a run down the field. With time running out he took a long neckshot that went wide, ending the game and giving the victory to Zacara.

“We earned the win,” announced Mike Azzaro. “We fought for the win and we played as a team,” he said. Cambiaso led all scoring with five goals (three on penalty shots). Torres scored twice in the loss. Pieres set the pace for Zacara with four goals. Laprida added three goals and Lea scored once for the win. C. V. Whitney Cup play will continue on Friday with three games. Alegria will face Piaget at 10am; Orchard Hill and Lechuza will meet in the noon game; and Audi and Coca-Cola will battle it out in the 2pm match.


The Teams:
Alegria (+26)
Julian Mannix (+2)
Hilario Ulloa (+9)
Mariano Aguerre (+9)
Facundo Obregon (+6)

Audi (+26)
Marc Ganzi (+1)
Nico Pieres (+8)
Gonzalito Pieres (+10)
Jeff Hall (+7)

Coca-Cola (+26)
Gillian Johnston (+1)
Sugar Erskine (+7)
Julio Arellano (+9)
Sebastian Merlos (+9)

ERG (+26)
Scott Wood (0)
Tincho Merlos (+9)
Eduardo N. Astrada (+9)
Paco de Navaez (+8)

Lechuza Caracas (+26)
Victor Vargas (+1)
Polito Pieres (+8)
Juan Martin Nero (+10)
Francisco Elizalde (+7)

Orchard Hill (+26)
Steve van Andel (0)
Rodrigo Andrade (+8)
Pablo MacDonough (+10)
Matias MacDonough (+8)
Alt – Nic Roldan (+8)

Piaget (+25/+26)
Melissa Ganzi (0)
Alt Juan Bollini (+5) / Nacho Badila (+6)
Sapo Casset (+10)
Miguel Astrada (+10)

Valiente (+26)
Bob Jornayvaz (0)
Pelon Stirling (+10)
Adolfo Cambiaso (+10)
Santi Torres (+6)

Zacara (+26)
Facundo Pieres (+10)
Lyndon Lea (+1)
Magoo Laprida (+8)
Mike Azzaro (+7)


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