by U.S. Polo Correspondent Alex Webbe

An enthusiastic crowd cheered on from the sidelines as Adolfo Cambiaso showed why he is considered by many to be the greatest polo player in the game yesterday as he scored seven times in leading Valiente (2-0) to a dominating 13-8 win over Coca-Cola (0-2). Valiente charged onto the stadium field at the International Polo Club in Wellington with focus and determination as they rang up the first four goals of the game at the expense of a bewildered Coca-Cola lineup.

Pelon Stirling scored the first goal of the day from the opening throw-in, followed by a goal from the field from Valiente team captain Bob Jornayvaz and a 60-yard penalty conversion from Adolfo Cambiaso. Stirling jumped on a miss-hit by Sebastian Merlos in front of the Coca-Cola goal, and scored his second goal of the chukker for the early 4-0 lead. There was no letup in the second period with Cambiaso making it 5-0 on a goal from the field in the opening 30 seconds of play. American 9-goaler Julio Arellano finally broke the ice for Coca-Cola with a penalty conversion, but two goals from Cambiaso in the final two minutes of the chukker had Valiente on top, 7-1 after the first two chukkers of the match.

Merlos opened the scoring in the third with a goal from the field, 7-2, but Cambiaso (penalty goal) and Stirling scored single goals to close out the chukker with Valiente ahead by seven goals, 9-2. A penalty goal from Cambiaso opened the second half, with Stirling scoring his fourth goal of the game on a perfectly placed pass from his fellow 10-goaler, as Valiente stretched their lead over Coca-Cola to nine goals, 11-2. Gillian Johnston scored the final goal of the chukker for Coca-Cola, but Valiente held a solid lead at 11-3.

The two teams exchanged goals in the fifth, with Cambiaso and Jornayvaz adding goals from the field while Coca-Cola got a pair of goals from Arellano (one on a penalty conversion). With one chukker left to play, Valiente was running away with the game, 13-5. Merlos opened the sixth with a goal, 13-6, when the Coca-Cola attack faltered. With just over two minutes left to play in regulation time, Johnston scored her second goal on the day and a minute later Arellano drove the ball through the Valiente goalposts for a score, but it would be Valiente celebrating the 13-8 win.

Cambiaso led all scoring in the game with seven goals and was named MVP. Stirling added four goals and Jornayvaz scored twice in the victory. Arellano accounted for four goals for Coca-Cola. Teammates Johnston and Merlos scored two goals apiece in the loss. Johnston’s 8-year-old Black Thoroughbred mare, Becon, earned Best Playing Pony honors.

AUDI 13, ALEGRIA 7
In earlier Piaget Gold Cup play, Audi (2-0) handed Alegria (0-2) its second consecutive loss in a 13-7 rout. Gonzalito Pieres converted a penalty shot for the opening goal of the game just 12 seconds into play. Alegria’s Mariano Aguerre made it 1-1 on a goal from the field just a minute later when Audi put the pressure on. A second penalty goal from Gonzalito Pieres was followed by a pair of goals from the field from the Audi 10-goaler. The first period ended with Audi controlling a 4-1 advantage. Gonzalito Pieres converted an 80-yard penalty shot in the opening seconds of the second chukker when Alegria seemed to come alive. Three straight goals from Alegria (Julian Mannix, Hilario Ulloa and Aguerre) cut the Audi lead to a single goal, 5-4 to end the period.

A concerted Audi effort in the third chukker saw every member of the team get on the scoreboard. Nico Pieres scored on a 60-yard penalty conversion while Gonzalito Pieres, Jeff Hall and Juancito Bollini added single goals from the field for a 9-6 lead. Alegria got single goals from Mannix and Facundo Obregon (penalty goal). At the end of the first half, Audi was on the winning end of a 9-6 score. Defenses tightened in the fourth, with Gonzalito Pieres scoring the only goal from the field in the chukker. Obregon responded with a penalty conversion for a goal, and Alegria continued to trail, 10-7.

Goals were hard to come by in the fifth, with Hall scoring the only goal in the period. The Audi lead had grown to four goals, 11-7. Single goals from Nico Pieres and Bollini ended the match as Coca-Cola continued to have difficulties moving the ball. Audi won the game by six goals, 13-7. Gonzalito Pieres led the Audi attack with seven goals on the day. Teammates Nico Pieres, Hall and Bollini each scored a pair of goals in the victory. Aguerre, Mannix and Obregon each scored two goals for Alegria. Ulloa also accounted for a goal in a losing effort.

ZACARA 10, MT. BRILLIANT 6
In the opening game of sunday, a half-hearted Zacara (2-0) effort resulted in a 10-6 win over Mt. Brilliant, who suffered their second loss in Piaget Gold Cup play. Maybe it was the shift to daylight savings time, but Zacara had none of the zest they had demonstrated in their tournament opening 17-7 win over Coca-Cola, but the effort was still enough to earn them their second consecutive win, 10-6. There were five-and-one-half minutes gone before Zacara’s Magoo Laprida finally broke the ice with the opening goal. Mt. Brilliant’s Nic Roldan tied it up a minute later for a 1-1 first chukker stalemate.

Neither team seemed interested in scoring in the second chukker, with a penalty goal from Facundo Pieres accounting for the only offense in the period. After two chukkers of play, Zacara led Mt. Brilliant by the anemic score of 2-1. Zacara broke it open in the third chukker with Pieres putting on a show. Expert stickwork and an aggressive presence in the Mt. Brilliant end of the field resulted in three goals from the 10-goaler (two on penalty shots). Mt. Brilliant team captain Bo Goodman kept his team from getting shutout with his first goal of the game. At the end of the first half Zacara rode off the field on top, 5-2.

Mt. Brilliant had their opportunities in the fourth chukker, but emerged with a single goal from Goodman. A miserly Mt. Brilliant defense kept Zacara from scoring cutting the led to two goals, 5-3. The two teams combined for eight goals in the fifth, with Mt. Brilliant picking up three goals (two from Roldan and a single goal from 9-goaler Santiago Chavanne)and Zacara firing back with five ( three from Pieres and two from Laprida). At the end of the fifth chukker Zacara held a comfortable 10-6 lead over a Mt. Brilliant team that struggled with its offense. There was no scoring at all in the final seven minutes of play as Zacara remained undefeated at 2-0. Mt. Brilliant suffered their second consecutive loss, 0-2.

Victories by Lechuza Caracas and ERG highlighted the second day of competition in the 2013 USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club in Wellington in Saturday’s polo action.

LECHUZA CARACAS 12, PIAGET 10
Piaget’s Nacho Badiola scored the first goal of the game Saturday afternoon but three consecutive goals from Lechuza Caracas 8-goaler Polito Pieres had Piaget trailing 3-1. With just less than two minutes left in the first chukker 10-goaler Miguel Astrada blasted an 80-yard shot through the goalposts to cut the Lechuza Caracas lead to a single goal, 3-2.

Another goal from Pieres opened the second period as Lechuza Caracas extended its lead back to two goals, 4-2. Consecutive goals from Astrada and 10-goaler Sapo Caset (penalty conversion) had it all even at 4-4. With less than a minute left in the chukker, Lechuza Caracas team captain Victor Vargas scored, breaking the tie and giving Lechuza Caracas a 5-4 advantage. There was no scoring until nearly midway through the third when Caset tied it up at 5-5 with his second penalty conversion of the game. Lechuza Caracas responded with consecutive goals from the field from Francisco Elizalde, and rode off the field at the end of the first half of play on the winning end of a 7-5 score.

Elizalde and Badiola exchanged goals in the fourth but a late foul on Piaget sent Pieres to the penalty line where he stroked the ball through the goalposts for a three goal, 9-6 lead. The two teams exchanged goals in the fifth, with Astrada and Caset scoring single goals for Piaget while Vargas and Pieres did the same. The chukker ended with Lechuza Caracas maintaining its three goal lead, 11-8.

Piaget continued to press in the final chukker. A foul cost Lechuza Caracas another goal as Caset stroked the ball across the goal line, and just a minute later, the talented 10-goaler unloaded on a 110 yard shot that had Piaget within a goal, 11-10. The Lechuza Caracas defense tightened in the final minutes of the game, putting an end to any thought of a successful rally. Pieres picked up the final goal of the game at the 1:15 mark, racing the length of the field for the score, and Lechuza Caracas celebrated the 12-10 win. Pieres led all scoring with seven goals. Elizalde accounted for three scores and Vargas added two goals in the victory. Caset scored five times for Piaget. Astrada added four goals and Badiola was credited with a single goal in the loss.

ERG 16, ORCHARD HILL 11
In a high-scoring run-and-gun contest that saw 27 goals being scored, Scott Wood’s ERG team posted an impressive 16-11 win over Steve Van Andel’s Orchard Hill lineup in USPA Piaget Gold Cup play to end the day’s competition. Orchard Hill took control of the opening throw-in as Brazilian 8-goaler Rodrigo Andrade scored for the 1-0 lead. It would be nearly four minutes later until Wood would score the second goal of the match to deadlock it at 1-1. Eduardo Astrada made it 2-1, ERG, at the 2:32 mark in the final goal of the chukker. It was Orchard Hill that trailed by a single goal after the opening chukker.

Matias MacDonough tied it up on a penalty conversion in the opening 30 seconds of the second chukker, 2-2, when ERG took control. Three consecutive goals from ERG (two from Paco de Narvaez and a penalty goal from Agustin Merlos) ended the chukker with Orchard Hill falling behind by three goals, 5-2. Matias MacDonough cut the ERG lead to two goals, 5-3, after a 200-yard run at goal, but a Merlos put ERG back in charge with a pair of goals (one from the field and one on a penalty shot), that gave ERG a four goal 7-3 lead. Midway through the chukker, 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough scored his first goal of the game, 8-4, and his brother Matias MacDonough closed it out in the final minute of the period with a goal to put ERG on top of a three goal, 8-5 lead.

Things got no better for Orchard Hill in the second half. Merlos and Matias MacDonough exchanged penalty goals in the fourth. Orchard Hill team captain Steve Van Andel carried the ball through the goalposts after a long run, cutting the lead to two goals, 9-7, when ERG came alive. Consecutive goals from de Narvaez ended the period with ERG out in front, 11-7. Orchard Hill and ERG swapped goals once again in the fifth. Astrada and Paco de Narvaez (penalty goal) each added a goal, but Astrada and de Narvaez (penalty goal) responded in kind. ERG continued to control the game with a four goal edge, 13-9.

Sixth chukker goals from de Narvaez and Merlos had ERG in front, 15-9 before a Matias Macdonough 60-yard penalty goal found its mark, but ERG continued to lead, by a comfortable 15-10 margin. Merlos scored again to put ERG up by six, 16-10, with Matias MacDonough scoring the final goal in the 16-11 ERG victory. Merlos led the ERG attack with seven goals; de Narvaez scored six times. Astrada was credited with two goals while Wood added a goal for the win. Matias MacDonough scored seven goals in the game (four on penalty shots). Pablo MacDonough registered a pair of goals in the loss, with single goals coming from Andrade and Van Andel.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piaget (+25 / +26)
Melissa Ganzi (0)
Nacho Badiola (+6) / Alt Juan Bollini (+5)
Sapo Caset (+10)
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)

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