By Alex Webbe
Dubai (Rashid Albwardy, Kian Hall, Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero) looked like world beaters in the opening minutes of the final of the 2016 Carter Queens Cup at the Guards Polo Club Saturday afternoon, as they scored the first four goals of the game, riding out to an impressive 9-4 halftime lead, but La Indiana polo team (Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan, Agustin Merlos and Julian de Lusarreta) rallied to make a game of it with Adolfo Cambiaso scoring the winning goal with less than 20 seconds in regulation play for the 12-11 victory.
Adolfo Cambiaso put the first point on the scoreboard with a 30-yard penalty conversion followed by a goal from Juan Martin Hero (on a pass from Cambiaso), 2-0. Another penalty goal from Cambiaso was followed by Nero’s second goal of the chukker. La Indiana was held scoreless for the first seven minutes of the game and trailed 4-0 after the opening chukker.
La Indiana team captain Michael Bickford opened the second chukker with a well-executed drove through the Dubai goalposts, but that would be the extent of their offense for the balance of the period. Cambiaso added a goal a goal from the field and converted a 60-yard penalty shot to close out the period with Dubai on top, 6-1.
La Indiana rustled up a bit of offense in the third with Agustin “Tincho” Merlos converting a 30-yard penalty shot to open the period and adding another from the field on a great individual effort to cut the Dubai lead to three goals, 6-3. Cambiaso and Merlos traded penalty goals with Dubai scoring the final two goals of the chukker (both from Cambiaso, one on a penalty conversion) for a 9-4 halftime lead.
La Indiana paid no attention to the scoreboard that had them trailing by five goals as the second half got underway. Complimented by a stellar defensive effort, La Indiana climbed back into the game, with Julian de Lusarreta leading the charge. Three consecutive goals came on the end of the mallet of de Lusarreta, and La Indiana found themselves trailing by just two goals, 9-7. The La Indiana defense continued to open opportunities for the team offensively, with Merlos getting control of the gall in the final minute of the period to score his fourth goal of the afternoon, cutting the Dubai lead to a single goal, 9-8.
Dubai dug deep for the fifth. Nero broke free to score the first goal of the chukker, 10-8, and a missed clearing backhander from Bickford allowed Rashid Albwardy to score for a three goal lead, 11-8. De Lusarreta scored the final goal of the period, however, to make it 11-9.
La Indiana had shocked the defending championship King Power Foxes just days earlier to earn a berth in the final and it looked like Dubai’s dominance on the field might be slowly slipping away.
A costly foul by Dubai sent Merlos the penalty line where he converted from 40-yards out, cutting the Dubai lead back to a single goal, 11-10. De Lusarreta continued to amaze the crowd as he broke through the Dubai defenses to score his fifth goal of the day and tie the game at 11-11 with just over a minute on the game clock. With time running down and Dubai on the attack deep in the La Indiana end of the field, a whistle sounded. The umpires conferred with one another and finally went to the third man (the Referee) to decide the call. The Referee ruled no foul, and with seconds remaining in regulation lay, the ball was thrown in. Albwardy got a stick on the ball and directed it out of the lineup. Cambiaso was on the ball immediately and drove it through the goal posts with a powerful cut shot for the exciting 12-11 victory.
Dubai was exuberant; La Indiana dejectedly stunned and Adolfo Cambiaso won his record ninth Queens Cup for Dubai.
Cambiaso led all scoring with eight goals (five on penalty conversions). Nero added three goals and Albwardy scored once for the win. Merlos and de Lusarreta scored five goals apiece for La Indiana with Bickford getting credit for a goal in the loss.
Despite the loss, La Indiana’s de Lusarreta was selected as MVP and Bautista Heguy’s gelding, Volcan (played by de Lusarreta), was honored as Best Playing Pony.
Photo CrDubai (L to R)-Kian Hall, Rashid Albwardy, Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero.
Best Playing Pony-Chapa Volcan, owned and bred by Bautista Heguy, played by Queens Cup MVP, Julian de Lusarreta.