Orchard Hill won the C.V. Whitney Cup semifinal 12-7, but if you ask Facundo Pieres, numbers can be deceiving. “The game was much more even than what the scoreboard reflects. It was a lot tougher on the field than what a difference of five goals looks like,” he said.
Orchard Hill didn’t quite know what to expect from its opponent. Lucchese drew a bye to the semis, which were held at Lechuza Caracas. “No one had played them before, so all we knew was that it was going to be very tough because they’re a good team,” said Polito Pieres. “We had to fight to the end.”
Lucchese went with probably the only viable strategy against a seasoned 26-goal powerhouse like Orchard Hill; go over the top and stay there. Lucchese consistently pushed the envelope, trying to win every bowl-in, steal every ball and foil every attempt on goal. It was a flat-out battle of the 10-goalers, with Sapo Caset (who made five goals) all over Facundo and Polito Pieres (who made six and four goals, respectively). But as Facundo Pieres said, this wasn’t a mathematics game. Lucchese rolled onto the field breathing fire. Just 36 seconds into the game teammates Caset and Nico Pieres drew simultaneous yellow cards. Later on in the game Facundo and Polito Pieres got flagged, as did teammate Julian de Lusarreta.
Caset scored in every chukker but the third. He made goals on several sharply angled neck shots, one from over 60 yards out and another from 90. His moves on the field were cat-like. He duped Orchard Hill on a number of plays, casually tapping the ball to lure his opponents in and then slamming it down the field. However, Caset’s efforts were not strong enough to outmatch Orchard Hill, who never lost the lead throughout the game.
Benjamin Avendaño subbed for Orchard Hill patron Steve Van Andel, and in the second half Team USPA member Todd Thurston subbed for patron John Muse.