In an epic rematch of the 2015 U.S. Open Polo Championship® final, Valiente defeated Orchard Hill 13-12 in overtime at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC).
Valiente was striving for the Triple Crown after winning the C.V. Whitney Cup and USPA Gold Cup® earlier this year, while Orchard Hill was looking for back-to-back U.S. Open titles. The previous match-up between these two teams was a thrilling overtime affair that resulted in a Valiente comeback, but Orchard Hill was looking for a different outcome this time around.
The final was exciting from the second the ball left the umpire’s hand to begin the game. Orchard Hill’s Polito Pieres took the throw-in and found Facundo Pieres on the end of a pass. Facundo bounced a shot in off the goal post to open the scoring less than 30 seconds into the game. After both teams traded penalty goals with Facundo converting a penalty 4 for Orchard Hill and Diego Cavanagh converting a penalty 2 for Valiente, 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso drove downfield with time expiring. Shooting at goal from approximately 60 yards out, the ball sailed over the inside edge of the goal post, narrowly missing a goal by inches. The smallest of margins was determining the outcome of the game between two highly skilled and well-mounted teams.
The tense game continued as Diego Cavanagh took advantage of early fouls from Orchard Hill to score the first 5 Valiente goals (4 penalty goals, 1 field goal). Meanwhile Orchard Hill was controlling open play as Polito Pieres scored his first goal of the game while Facundo Pieres scored his third goal to maintain the 4-4 tie after two chukkers.
Orchard Hill exploded in the third chukker, outscoring Valiente 5-2. Orchard Hill converted 5 of 7 shot attempts as they looked to seize control of the game and gain a lead over a tough Valiente team that was set on making a comeback. The emergence of Polito Pieres for Orchard Hill was a huge factor. He had his best game of the season, highlighted by a first half that saw him score 4 of his 6 goals and win 6 of his game-leading 11 throw-ins on the day to give Orchard Hill a 9-6 edge heading into halftime.