by U.S. Polo Correspondent Alex Webbe

Coca-Cola (2-2) scored their second win of the 2013 Maserati US Open at the International Polo Club and qualified for the quarterfinals after holding off a talented Zorzal (1-3) team in an 11-10 squeaker. In other Open play, Valiente (4-0) made short work of ERG (2-2) in a 10-8 win that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.

After suffering a heart-breaking 13-12 overtime loss to Valiente in Sunday’s feature match, Zorzal needed to score a win against Coca-Cola if they had any hope of advancing in the tournament. Zorzal 7-goaler Mariano Gonzalez scored the first goal of the game on a penalty conversion in the opening twenty seconds of the first chukker. Coca-Cola wasted little time in responding as 9-goaler Julio Arellano scored three consecutive goals to lift his team to a 3-1 lead. A goal from team captain Gillian Johnston in the second stretched the Coca-Cola lead to three goals, 4-1. Gonzalez scored on a 40-yard penalty shot for Zorzal, 4-2, and a goal from the field from Freddie Mannix had Zorzal within a goal of Coca-Cola, 4-3. Sugar Erskine closed out the scoring in the chukker with his first goal of the day to put Coca-Cola in front, 5-3.

Three minutes into the third chukker Gonzalez scored on his third penalty shot of the game to cut the Coca-Cola lead to a single goal, 5-4. Marianito Obregon scored his first goal of the day on a beautifully-executed play that had his receiving a pass Gonzalez and then flipping it through the Coca-Cola goalposts for a tying score, 5-5, with just 3:10 left in the chukker. Arellano put Coca-Cola back on top at the two minute mark with a penalty conversion for the 6-5 halftime advantage. Coca-Cola took control in the opening chukker of the second half, with Arellano converting a 40-yard penalty shot for a goal and Johnston scoring her second goal of the match. A vigilant defense kept Zorzal from scoring as Coca-Cola got some breathing room with a three goal, 8-5 advantage.

Obregon cut into the Coca-Cola lead with a penalty conversion in the first minute of the fifth chukker. Zorzal got additional scores from Gonzalez and Mannix, but Coca-Cola was up to the challenge, adding goals from Johnston and Arellano (penalty goal). With one chukker left in regulation time, Coca-Cola held a two goal lead, 10-8. A goal from Obregon in the first minute of the sixth chukker cut the Coca-Cola lead to a single goal, 10-9, but Coke was up to the challenge. After responding with a penalty goal from Arellano, they played keep-away from Zorzal for much of the remaining match. Jason Crowder managed goal at the 3:31 mark, but despite deep drives and near goals, that would be their last goal of the game in an 11-10 Coca-Cola victory.

Arellano led all scoring with seven goals (four on penalty shots). Johnston scored three times and Erskine added a goal in the win. Gonzalez scored three of his four goals for Zorzal on penalty shots. Obregon added three goals to the mix; Mannix accounted for two and Crowder scored once in the loss.

VALIENTE 10, ERG 8
In a game that was over shortly after it began, Valiente ran its record to 4-0 with a 10-8 win over an ERG team that was clearly outgunned. The pace was quick from the onset, with neither team scoring in the opening two minutes of play. Santi Torres finally got Valiente on the scoreboard with a penalty conversion for a goal at the 5:01 mark of the first chukker. Agustin Merlos answered with a goal from the field just a minute later for a 1-1 tie. Torres scored again at 2:33 and Adolfo Cambiaso made his presence known as he drove the ball through the goalposts with 1:39 left in the chukker to go up 3-1.

Merlos and Torres exchanged penalty goals in the second period, and Torres added a closing goal with six seconds left in the chukker. The Valiente lead grew to three goals, 5-2. Cambiaso opened the third chukker with a goal followed by a goal from Bob Jornayvaz for a 7-2 Valiente led. Torres converted his third penalty goal of the game with just 35 seconds on the clock and Valiente rode off the field with a commanding 8-2 lead. “It was over in the fourth chukker,” said Valiente 10-goaler Pelon Stirling. “The second half of the game we had an opportunity to work the horses and prepare them for the quarterfinals.”

Both teams returned to the field for the fourth chukker, but it was evident to all in attendance that ERG had thrown in the towel and Valiente was just giving their horses a good run. ERG team captain Scott Wood sat down for the duration of the game, sending in sixteen-year-old Wesley Bryan in his stead. Merlos and Torres exchanged goals in the opening three minutes of the second half, 9-3. Eduardo Novillo Astrada scored his first goal of the game in the final 41 seconds of the fourth. ERG trailed by five goals, 9-4. Paco de Narvaez cut the Valiente lead to four goals as he took the opening throw-in 150 yards down the field for a goal. Bryan scored his first goal of the day at 2:22, and the chukker ended with Valiente on top, 9-6.

Astrada cut the Valiente lead to two goals, 9-7, with a well-earned goal, but Valiente was not pressing their attack. A goal from Cambiaso at the midway point of the sixth had them ahead by three, 10-7. Bryan managed his second goal of the game with 2:28 in the game, and that’s where it ended. Valiente celebrated the 10-8 victory.
Torres scored six times (three on penalty shots) to lead the Valiente attack on the day. Cambiaso accounted for three goals and Jornayvaz scored once for the win. Merlos scored three goals for ERG. strada and Bryan scored two goals apiece and de Narvaez added a goal in a losing effort.


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) / Wesley Bryan
Tincho Merlos (+9)
Eduardo Novillo Astrada (+9)
Paco de Navaez (+8)

Faraway Polo (+26 / +25)
Bo / Hutton Goodman (+1 / 0)
Santiago Chavanne (+9)
Nic Roldan (+8)
Matias Magrini (+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)

Piaget (+26)
Melissa Ganzi (0) / Matias Sosa
Nacho Badiola (+6)
Sapo Caset (+10) / Lucas Lalor and Juan Bollini
Miguel Novillo 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)

Zorzal (+26)
Fred Mannix (+6)
Jason Crowder (+6)
Marianito Obregon (+7)
Mariano Gonzalez (+7)