By US Senior Correspondent Alex Webbe

In the highest-scoring final in C.V. Whitney Cup history, Orchard Hill (Steve Van Andel, Ezequiel Ferrario, Polito Pieres and Facundo Pieres) ran past Alegria (Julian Mannix, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Sterling Giannico) 16-13 at the International Polo Club before a crowd that was cheering every score.

With Facundo Pieres and his cousin Polito Pieres on the Orchard Hill roster, polo purists were expecting a high scoring affair, but it was Alegria team captain Julian Mannix who lit up the scoreboard in the opening chukker. Mannix scored the first goal of the game on a 30-yard penalty shot in the opening seconds of play. Facundo Pieres took advantage of an Alegria foul a minute into the period by converting a 60-yard penalty shot to make it 1-1. Mannix added two goals from the field in 60 seconds, 3-1. Ezequiel Ferrario cut the lead to a single goal, 3-2, with his first goal of the game a minute later and Facundo Pieres tied it up at 3-3 at the 3:06 mark. Mannix drilled the ball through the Orchard Hill goalposts from 65-yards out and then stole the ball from Facundo Pieres on a knock-in and scored again to make it 5-3. Facundo Pieres converted a 30-yard penalty shot with three seconds left in the chukker to trail Alegria, 5-4. The fast pace continued into the second chukker with Facundo Pieres tying it with the opening goal, 5-5. Sterling Giannico’s first goal of the game gave the lead back to Alegria, 6-5. Polito Pieres countered with consecutive goals to go ahead, 7-6, and Facundo Pieres scored the final goal of the chukker, 8-6. Orchard Hill continued to roll in the third. Aided by a defense that held Alegria scoreless, Ezequiel Ferrario scored the first goal of the chukker from the field followed by a 60-yard penalty goal from Facundo Pieres. At the end of the first half, Orchard Hill was in control of a 10-6 game.

Mariano Aguerre scored a goal on the nearside, 10-7, Facundo Pieres answered back with a goal of his own, 11-7. Hilario Ulloa finally got on the scoreboard with a 30-yard penalty shot, 11-8, and followed it up with a goal from the field 11-9, with 1:15 left in the period. With time running out, Facundo Pieres knocked the ball in and carried it 300-yards down the field to score as time expired, 12-9. Mannix scored his first goal since the opening chukker, cutting the Orchard Hill back to two goals, 12-10. Ferrario extended the Orchard Hill lead back to three goals, 13-10, 90 seconds later. Facundo Pieres and Ulloa (60-yard penalty shot) traded goals to close out the chukker, 14-11. Ulloa had Alegria within two goals of the lead, 14-12, with the opening score of the sixth chukker, but Orchard Hill answered right back. Goals from Facundo Pieres and his cousin Polito Pieres had Orchard solidly in the lead, 16-12 with less than two minutes in the match. Ulloa managed a single goal for Alegria, but it was Orchard Hill with the 16-13 victory.

Pieres led all scoring with ten goals (three on penalty conversions). Polito Pieres scored four times and Ferrario added a pair of goals for the win. Mannix was the high scorer for Alegria with six goals. Ulloa was credited with five goals and Aguerre and Giannico added single goals in the loss. Facundo Pieres received MVP honors while his horse, Patagonia, was named Best Playing Pony. The Stella Artois “She’s thing of beauty” Horse of the Tournament award went to Machitos Maradona. NutraSweet won Best Playing Pony award.

Lechuza wins Armour Cup, 12-11, in OT
Earlier in the day, Lechuza Caracas (Victor Vargas, Nico Pieres, Juan Martin Nero and Juan Garcia Grossi) battled Las Monjitas (Camilo Bautista, Sebastian Merlos, Eduardo Novillo Astrada and Facundo Sola) to an 11-11 tie after six chukkers of play before scoring the winning goal in overtime for a 12-11 victory and the 2015 Les Armour Cup (the C.V. Whitney subsidiary).

Nico Pieres scored twice in the first chukker for the early 2-1 lead. Facundo Sola was responsible for the Las Monjitas score as the two teams felt one another out in the opening minutes of play. Las Monjitas exploded for four goals in the second period with Facundo Sola converting penalty shots from 30 and 60-yards out and Sebastian Merlos and Eduardo Novillo Astrada adding single goals from the field. Juan Garcia Grossi and Juan Martin Nero (40-yard penalty conversion) each scored a goal for Lechuza, who fell behind, 5-4. Nero tied the game at 5-5 in the opening minutes of the third chukker. Las Monjitas countered with a goal from the field from team captain Camilo Bautista and a penalty conversion for a goal from Sola. At the end of the first half, Las Monjitas held on to a 7-5 lead.

In a low-scoring fourth chukker, Merlos opened with a goal for Las Monjitas, 8-5, followed by a 30-yard penalty goal from Pieres, 8-6. Both defenses held firm with the 8-6 score standing. Las Monjitas got fifth chukker goals from Merlos and Sola (60-yard penalty goal). Lechuza Caracas responded with a 40-yard penalty conversion for a goal. The lead held at two goals with one chukker left to be played in regulation time. Sola scored the first goal of the sixth chukker for a comfortable 11-7 Las Monjitas, Pieres returned fire, connecting on a penalty shot and a goal from the field, 11-9. Nero made it a one goal game with a goal from the field, and with time running out and Las Monjitas knocking in, Las Monjitas got caught trying to be clever with the ball, fouling and sending Pieres to the penalty line where he converted a 30-yard shot to level the score at 11-11 and forcing a sudden-death overtime. After a brief intermission, both teams returned to the field, with each trying to gain control of the ball. With 5:45 left in the chukker, Pieres broke loose and scored the winning goal for Lechuza Caracas, 12-11.

Pieres scored four of his game-high eight goals on penalty shots. Nero scored three times (once on a penalty conversion) and Grossi added a goal for the win. Four of Sola’s six goals came on penalty conversions. Merlos added three goals with Bautista and Astrada chipping in single goals in the loss.Pieres received MVP honors while Patagonia, ridden and played by Sebastian Merlos was named Best Playing Pony.

The teams:
Alegria (+26)
Julian Mannix (+4)
Hilario Ulloa (+9)
Mariano Aguerre (+9)
Sterling Giannico (+4)

Audi/Millarville (+24)
Grant/Marc Ganzi (+1)
Magoo Laprida (+8)
Rodrigo Andrade (+9)
Freddie Mannix (+6)

Coca-Cola (+26)
Gillian Johnston (+2)
Pelon Sterling (+10)
Julio Arellano (+8)
Sugar Erskine (+6)

FlexJet (+26)
Melissa Ganzi (0)
Gonzalito Pieres (+9)
Miguel Astrada (+9)
Nic Roldan (+8)

Lechuza Caracas (+26)
Victor Vargas (+1)
Nico Pieres (+8)
Juan Martin Nero (+10)
Agustin Garcia Grossi (+7)

Las Monjitas (+26)
Camilo Bautista (0)
Facundo Sola (+8)
Sebastian Merlos (+9)
Eduardo Astrada (+9)

Orchard Hill (+26)
Steve Van Andel (0)
Facundo Pieres (+10)
Polito Pieres (+9)
Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario (+7)

Valiente (+26)
Bob Jornayvaz (+1)
Alejo Tranco (+6)
Guillermo Terrera (+8)
Adolfo Cambiaso (+10)