by U.S. Polo Correspondent Alex Webbe

The International Polo Club in Wellington hosted three more matches in the 2013 Maserati U. S. Open Championship as play continues. In the opening game of the day Valiente (1-0) gave the field an indication of the kind of firepower they carried as the rolled over Coca-Cola (1-1) 15-7 in a game whose outcome was never in doubt. Ten-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso scored the opening two goals of the game to give Valiente a 2-0 lead before Coca-Cola ever got on the scoreboard. Four minutes into the first chukker Sebastian Merlos drove the ball through the Valiente goalposts to cut the lead to a single goal, 2-1. With 2:03 left in the period, Santi Torres converted a penalty shot for a goal and Pelon Stirling closed out the chukker with a goal from the field in the final 15 seconds of play. Valiente took an early three goal, 4-1 lead after the first seven-and-a-half minutes of play.

The Coca-Cola defense tightened up in the second chukker but Valiente still managed to score a pair of goals. Cambiaso scored the first goal of the chukker in the opening 34 seconds of play while fellow 10-goaler, Stirling, added another goal just two minutes later. The chukker ended with Valiente holding a comfortable 6-1 advantage over a staggering Coca-Cola foursome. Coca-Cola bounced back in the third, picking up two goals and cutting the Valiente lead to three goals, 6-3. Merlos picked up his second goal of the day in the opening seconds of the chukker followed by a goal from team captain Gillian Johnston. Stirling scored the final goal of the period to give Valiente a four goal lead, 7-3 at the end of the first half.

Valiente took the field in the fourth chukker and added three consecutive goals for a 10-3 lead. Single goals from Santi Torres, Cambiaso and Stirling slammed the door on any thoughts Coca-Cola had of getting back into the game. Julio Arellano scored a solo goal for Coca-Cola to end the chukker trailing 10-4. Valiente showed no signs of slowing down in the fifth as Torres opened the scoring with a goal from the field, 11-4, followed by a pair of goals from Cambiaso, 13-4. Coca-Cola saved face with goals from Merlos and Sugar Erskine, but trailed by seven goals, 13-6.

Even though Valiente looked to be easing their foot off of the accelerator in the final chukker, 6-goaler Torres added two more goals to their total. With 4:45 left in the game, Valiente held a nine goal, 15-6 advantage over Coca-Cola. A final goal from Arellano at 2:33 closed the book on the game as Valiente rang up a 15-7 victory. Coca-Cola’s record falls to 0-2 with the loss while Valiente register its first win of the tournament for a 1-0 record. Cambiaso set the pace for the day with six goals. Torres scored five times and Stirling was credited with four goals on the day. Merlos was high scorer for Coca-Cola with three goals. Arellano added two goals and Erskine and Johnston each scored a goal in the loss.

AUDI 11, ZORZAL 10 in OT
A noon matchup saw a once-beaten Audi team come back from a two goal deficit in the fifth chukker to tie a talented Zorzal lineup before scoring an 11-10 overtime win. A banged up (broken thumb on his mallet hand) Marc Ganzi led his Audi team against Freddie Mannix’s Zorzal quartet in Sunday’s noon contest in a game that Audi needed to win. Audi had dropped their first US. Open game to Coca-Cola just four days earlier and couldn’t afford a second loss. Zorzal was coming off of an impressive showing in their 10-8 win over ERG, and was looking for a second straight win.

The two teams traded goals in the opening chukker with 7-goaler Marianito Obregon scoring twice from the field while Audi relied on penalty goals from Gonzalito Pieres and Nico Pieres for a 2-2 tie. Audi was awarded a rare Penalty 1, awarding them a goal, 3-2, and a throw-in just 10 yards from the Zorzal goal. Zorzal tied it up at 3-3 on a 60-yard penalty conversion from Mariano Gonzalez less than a minute later. Jason Crowder’s first goal of the game closed out the scoring in the period with Zorzal on top, 4-3. Both teams tightened up their defenses in the third period. The only goal came with 1:19 left in the chukker when Nico Pieres converted a 60-yard penalty shot for Audi. At the end of the first half it was all even at 4-4.

Three consecutive goals from Zorzal in the fourth chukker had Audi trailing, 7-4. Crowder opened the period with a goal in the first 23 seconds of the period followed by a penalty conversion from Obregon and a goal from the field from team captain Freddie Mannix. Nico Pieres kept Audi from being shutout with a penalty goal at 1:37 to end the chukker. With two periods left to play, Zorzal held a 7-5 lead over Audi. Ganzi left the field just three minutes into the period with an injured arm and was replaced by Juancito Bollini. Audi got back on track in the fifth, with Nico Pieres scoring two goals in less than a minute to even it up at 7-7. Crowder gave the lead back to Zorzal, 8-7, with 2:32 left to play. Mannix pushed the Zorzal lead back to two goals with his second score of the game with 39 seconds on the clock. The chukker ended with Zorzal holding on to their two goal lead, 9-7.

Nico Pieres scored the first goal of the sixth chukker on a penalty shot followed by a goal from the field from Bollini that tied it at 9-9. Crowder scored his fourth goal of the match to give the lead back to Zorzal, 10-9. Ten-goaler Gonzalito Pieres powered the ball through the Zorzal goalposts with 31 seconds on the clock to tie it up and force sudden-death overtime. Jeff Hall dug the ball out of the lineup on the throw-in and raced down the field to score the winning goal in the opening 15 seconds of overtime for the Audi win. The victory improves Audi’s record to 1-1, while the loss is Zorzal’s first against one win, 1-1. Nico Pieres scored four of his team high six goals on penalty shots. Gonzalito Pieres scored on two penalty shots. Bollini and Hall added single goals in the win and the team received one goal on a Penalty 1. Crowder was credited with four goals for Zorzal. Obregon scored three times; Mannix twice and Gonzalez added a goal in a losing effort.

ZACARA 12, ORCHARD HILL 10
Zacara rode onto the International Polo Club’s stadium field Sunday afternoon as the defending U. S. Open champion, and looked to redeem itself after its disappointing loss to Valiente in last week’s USPA Piaget Gold Cup final. Steve Van Andel’s Orchard Hill lineup was looking for a way to return to the tournament finals, a feat accomplished by the team three times in the past, but it would be Zacara that would manage to hold on for the 12-10 victory. In an unsettled first chukker, both Zacara and Orchard Hill felt on another out, searching for weaknesses in the other and scoring opportunities. Orchard Hill got on the scoreboard first on a 60-yard penalty conversion from Pablo MacDonough at the 5:29 mark. Less than two minutes later Magoo Laprida blasted the ball through the goalposts from 70 yards out to tie it up at 1-1 to end the period.

Zacara team captain Lyndon Lea gave Zacara the lead in the second period with a goal from the field just a minute in for the 2-1 edge. Orchard Hill responded with a pair of penalty goals to end the chukker with Orchard Hill on top of a 3-2 score. Consecutive goals from Matias MacDonough (penalty conversion) and Rodrigo Andrade (100 yard shot through the goal) had Orchard Hill ahead by three goals, 5-2. With less than a minute left in the chukker Facundo Pieres scored his first goal of the game, cutting the Orchard Hill lead to two goals, 5-3, to end the first half. Not used to being behind, Zacara returned to the field in the second half on a mission. Mike Azzaro was on the receiving end of a well-placed pass from Laprida and scored the chukker’s opening goal, 5-4. Laprida scored two more goals in less than a minute, allowing Zacara to take the lead, 6-5, for just the second time all day. Lea scored one of the most amazing goals of the day on a neck shot taken at a sharp angle from over 30-yards for a goal, 7-5. Matias Macdonough scored the final goal of the chukker on a penalty shot that cut the Zacara lead down to a single goal, 7-6.

Twenty-seven seconds into the fifth chukker Pieres converted a 40-yard penalty shot for a goal as Zacara extended its lead back to two goals, 8-6. Azzaro’s third score of the game had Zacara on top by three goals, 9-6 when Orchard Hill pushed back. Matias Macdonough scored on a penalty shot, 9-7, and Andrade added a goal on a difficult but well-executed nearside neck-shot with less than two minutes in the period, 9-8. A penalty goal from Pieres closed out the chukker with Zacara leading by two goals, 10-8. Azzaro’s forth score of the game gave Zacara an 11-8, three goal cushion, but Orchard Hill responded. A goal from the field from 10-goaler Pablo Macdonough was countered by a 40-yard penalty conversion from Pieres. Pablo MacDonough cut the lead back to two goals with 2:48 to go when the wheels began to fall off the wagon for the Van Andel lineup. A couple of key misses in the final minutes of the game sealed their fate, and Zacara escaped with a 12-10 victory. The win gives Zacara a 1-0 record while Orchard Hill (0-1) suffered their first loss. Matias MacDonough led the Orchard Hill team with five goals. Pablo MacDonough scored three times and Andrade added two goals. A balanced Zacara attack had Pieres and Azzaro scoring four goals apiece. Lea and Laprida each scored twice for the win.


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 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)
Nacho Badiola (+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)

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