Facing a rematch of the C.V. Whitney Cup® Final and well aware of their opponents’ strengths, Scone and Park Place (Andrey Borodin, Matt Coppola*, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa) each prepared to leave it all on the field one last time in the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final. A formidable contender as the only team to reach all three finals, Scone (David Paradice, Adolfo Cambiaso, Poroto Cambiaso, Peke Gonzalez*) met Park Place on Sunday, April 18, both teams looking for their second trophy in the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO®. Ending halftime in the lead, Scone gradually took control of the game throughout the second half to cap off the season with the 14-13 win and $200,000 in prize money. Marking Cambiaso’s ninth U.S. Open Polo Championship® title overall, the first victory with his son Poroto made it the most personal of his career.
Riding the momentum of scoring the game-winning shot in the semifinal, Matt Coppola opened up the first chukker for Park Place with a powerful cutshot to goal on grey American Thoroughbred Serena. After each team added a penalty conversion, Coppola struck a second time off a well-placed pass from Hilario Ulloa. Learning after two close losses to Park Place that every goal counts, Scone quickly retaliated with Poroto Cambiaso winning the throw-in and heading straight to goal. “Our strategy today was to play as we had been playing, passing the ball, playing as a team, being in order defensively, and facing the game with a lot of confidence,” Poroto Cambiaso said.
Always looking for opportunities to set up his teammates, David Paradice courageously held off Ulloa giving Adolfo Cambiaso time to level the score 3-all at the beginning of the second. Both sides making strong offensive plays, the scoreboard remained tied as the evenly-matched teams fought to establish a lead in the third. Scoring three consecutive goals including two off the mallet of Poroto Cambiaso, Scone worked efficiently to create the largest lead yet which they would build on in the second half. Holding Park Place to one goal per chukker in the second and third, Scone entered halftime leading 7-5.
As the penalty opportunities added up in the second half, accuracy from the penalty line became a greater factor in maintaining the advantage. Scoring consecutive goals in the fourth, Peke Gonzalez raced forward to receive a beautiful pass from Adolfo Cambiaso which he carried to goal. Keeping his team in the game, Ulloa easily fired his third Penalty 2 between the posts, but Poroto Cambiaso managed to evade defenders and sneak in another goal. As the teams battled for possession in the fifth, Adolfo Cambiaso took advantage of a broken play when the ball was left sitting just in front of Park Place’s goal. Responsible for all of Park Place’s goals in the second half, Ulloa answered back on a breakaway to keep the tally within three.
Entering the sixth chukker up 11-8, Scone had to remain vigilant after witnessing Park Place’s last chukker comeback in the semifinal. Although a choppy sixth chukker with fouls on both sides, Scone was able to hold onto the lead, Adolfo Cambiaso lofted the ball out of the pack from distance to score his fourth goal of the day. As Gonzalez continued to prove deadly from the penalty line, Ulloa attempted to initiate a comeback in the final minutes as they had previously. Riding off Poroto Cambiaso, Ulloa made an impressive nearside shot to initiate the campaign, ultimately adding five goals in one chukker.
As all four matchups throughout the season were decided within one goal, Scone claimed the narrow win 14-13, allowing 15-year-old Poroto Cambiaso to join Nic Roldan as the youngest player to win the tournament.
“This win means everything to me, it’s amazing!” Gonzalez shared. “It’s what we have been working for the whole season, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am very thankful to the entire Scone team, Adolfito and Poroto for giving me the opportunity to play with them, and everyone involved including the grooms and all the guys who are helping the organization day after day. They did a great job throughout the whole season and we couldn’t have made it without them.”
Winning two of the three tournaments his first time competing in the GAUNTLET OF POLO®, Poroto Cambiaso has accomplished much in his career at such a young age. “It’s a pleasure to play with this team,” Poroto Cambiaso said. “I want to thank Bob Jornayvaz who rented us all the horses and it’s incredible to win with a friend like Peke, my dad and David.” Although Adolfo Cambiaso has won the U.S. Open Polo Championship® numerous times, sharing the victory with his son was especially meaningful. “Winning with my son is unbelievable,” Adolfo Cambiaso exclaimed. “Ten years ago he was only five years old so it was a dream that was kind of far away and today it came true. I never thought that I was going to be in the position that I am now, playing in the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final with my 15-year old son and winning, so I’m really happy. I want to thank David Paradice for trusting me to play with someone who is so young.”
In addition to the title, Scone received $200,000 in prize money while Park Place was awarded $50,000 as the runners-up. In partnership with USPA Global Licensing, this year’s GAUNTLET OF POLO® embraced the spirit of giving with non-profit charities chosen by the finalists also receiving a donation. Scone chose to divide the $10,000 between Homes for Horses Coalition and Polo For Life while Park Place contributed to Polo Players Support Group (PPSG) and Replay Polo.
Adolfo Cambiaso was named Seymour Knox Most Valuable Player. “We tried to maintain our system throughout the tournament,” Cambiaso said. “I was playing more in the back and I think both Poroto [Cambiaso] and Peke [Gonzalez] did a great job. Peke had a great game today and I think we were pretty solid. We made some mistakes, but we ended up playing pretty well.”
10-year-old Argentine mare Gete Leonor (Machitos Libano x Lelina) received the Willis L. Hartman Trophy for the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final, played in the second and sixth chukkers by Adolfo Cambiaso.
In addition to receiving Best Playing Pony for her performance in the U.S. Open Polo Championship® with Adolfo Cambiaso, 8-year-old Lovelocks Camusericht played in the third chukker (Open El Padrino x Dolfina Querencia) was also presented with Best Playing Pony of the GAUNTLET OF POLO® and IPC Horse of the Year. In need of another horse towards the end of the tournament, Cambiaso called on 10-goaler Pelon Stirling who flew the mare in from Argentina. “There were a couple of horses that came from Argentina at the last minute including Lovelocks Camusericht,” Cambiaso said. “I own her with Pelon Stirling and she came just to play the U.S. Open Polo Championship® and ended up winning multiple Best Playing Pony awards.”
Although Adolfo Cambiaso celebrated his forty-sixth birthday on the day of the semifinals, he remained focused on his goal. “I never thought about my birthday which was when we played the semifinal,” he said. “My mind was always on this day and I was only thinking about winning the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final. We came to win and now that it’s happened, we really are enjoying it.”
Having a successful first season in the GAUNTLET OF POLO®, David Paradice is looking forward to next season with the Cambiasos and hopefully getting to bring back Peke Gonzalez. “It’s great to win with nice people and great families, I just love it,” Paradice said. “It’s also been great to watch father and son play together and to have a young player like Peke Gonzalez. This is what it’s all about, family and playing with the right teammates who have integrity and just want to get the job done. A lot of people contributed to this win including Bob Jornayvaz, Tim Gannon, the Packer family and Pelon Stirling and I’m very fortunate for Bob Jornayvaz for making it possible for me to play on this team.”
*Peke Gonzalez is an Active Team USPA Members. Matt Coppola is a Graduating Team USPA Member. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.