by U.S. Polo Correspondent Alex Webbe

Zacara successfully defended its 2012 US Open Crown with a solid 16-13 win over a Valiente team they lost to just weeks earlier. It was only weeks earlier that Valiente had beaten Zacara 13-9 a in the finals of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup, but this Sunday belonged to Zacara. In a neck-and-neck game that had the score tied eight times, Zacara emerged victorious on the strength of a 16-13 win over a powerful Valiente lineup. “For two days we spent hours and hours reviewing game films,” said Zacara patron, Lyndon Lea. “We wanted to see what they did differently when they ran all over a team than when they had a closer match,” offered Lea. The work appeared to pay off, but it was no easy task in the early goings.

Facundo Pieres was on the scoring end of a pass from Magoo Laprida for the first goal of the game to put Zacara in the lead, 1-0. A minute later Valiente patron Bob Jornayvaz broke free of a Zacara defender to tie it up, 1-1. A 60-yard penalty conversion from Pieres was answered less than a minute later when Cambiaso converted on a pass from Stirling to tie it up at 2-2. Mike Azzaro drove the ball through the goalposts when he scored on a 45 yard shot on goal for a 3-2 advantage. Santi Torres closed out the scoring in the chukker with a pair of penalty conversions for a 4-3 lead. After seven first chukker goals, the pace became more guarded and deliberate in the second. Torres stole the ball from Zacara’s Mike Azzaro around midfield and raced down the field for a score on a great individual effort, 5-3. Pieres added another goal from the penalty line, 5-4. Magoo Laprida scored for Zacara on a pass from Pieres to tie it up at 5-5. Valiente had the opportunity to re-take the lead on a penalty shot, but the shot was blocked and the period ended in a 5-5 deadlock.

Third chukker actin got underway with a goal from the field from Pieres at 6:49 for a 6-5 lead. Cambiaso beat Laprida on a play to the goal, and it was all even at 6-6. Pelon Stirling scored his first goal of the game for a 7-6 Valiente advantage. A goal from Torres had Zacara trailing by two, 8-6 at the 1:31 mark, but Laprida drew Zacara within a goal with a score in the final minute of the chukker. At the end of the first half of play, Valiente held a tenuous 8-7 lead. It was just over a minute into the second half of play when Stirling’s second goal of the game had Valiente ahead, 9-7, but that was when the tables turned. Pieres connected on two consecutive 60-yard penalty shots to tie it up at 9-9. An impressive 100-yrd shot from the field from Pieres split the goalposts and ended the period with Zacara holding on to a delicate 10-9 edge. Valiente fouled their way into trouble in the opening seconds of the fifth chukker, as Pieres converted another 60-yard penalty shot for a goal, 11-9. Torres responded with a goal of his own to cut the Zacara lead to a single goal, 11-10. Pieres added another penalty goal to the Zacara total on a 40-yard penalty conversion, 12-10, when Valiente got back on track. Valiente took advantage of Zacara miscues to add three more goals to their total. Cambiaso scored goals on two penalty opportunities to knot it up at 12-12, and Torres gave the lead back to Valiente on his second penalty conversion of the chukker for a 13-12 Valiente lead with one chukker left in regulation time.

Less than a minute into the sixth chukker, 6:37, Pieres tied it up on another penalty conversion. As Valiente struggled to right the ship, Pieres gave Zacara the lead back, 14-13 on his eighth penalty goal of the match (5:03). Laprida gave Zacara some breathing room with less than two minutes left on the clock to move Zacara ahead by two goals, 15-13. Valiente got desperate, and the fouls kept coming. Valiente found themselves awarded a penalty shot at midfield when Cambiaso protested. When the umpire placed the ball on the spot, Cambiaso argues the placement of the ball and hit it forward, resulting in a final penalty against Valiente. For the ninth time, Pieres would convert a penalty shot, and with 1:02 left in the game, Zacara was on top, 16-13. Cambiaso removed himself from the game, at this point, and Zacara celebrated their successful defense of the US Open trophy.

Pieres led all scoring with an incredible 12 goals, nine on penalty shots, and was named MVP. Laprida added three goals and Azzaro scored once. Torres led the Valiente attack with six goals (four on penalties). Cambiaso scored two of his four goals on penalty shots. Stirling scored twice and Jornayvaz added a goal in a losing effort. Bob Jornayvaz’s Medallion (played by Stirling) was named Best Playing Pony while Corcha, a seven-year-old American Thoroughbred Bay mare was named Horse of the Year.


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 Narvaez (+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) / Mariano Gonzalez
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 / Nacho Novillo Astrada (+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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