Valiente take the US crown from Orchard Hill
In a thrilling overtime battle on 25 April, Valiente came out victorious against Orchard Hill capturing the coveted US Open trophy at International Polo Club, Palm Beach Florida.
Last year’s defending champion, Orchard Hill returned to this year’s tournament Final against 2015 US Open Champions Valiente. The field saw three famous 10 goalers ensuring fans were on the edge of their seat, eager to witness the outcome of the most notorious rivalry of the past decade.
Orchard Hill scored directly out of the first throw-in; Polito Pieres jumped on the ball, sending a neckshot towards goal that Facundo Pieres picked up as he galloped past Adolfo Cambiaso. The ball struck the left post and raced back into the goal. At the end of the first half, Orchard Hill held a comfortable lead of 9-6 as the Pieres duo mastered the field. As the fourth chukka commenced, Cambiaso took to the field with his charismatic determination, taking complete control of the game and bringing the score to 9-8. Valiente dominated the fifth chukka, bringing the scoreboard to 11-11 with seconds to spare. With a missed penalty and a quick fire cut shot off the 60-yard line from Polito Pieres, it looked like it could all be over for Valiente in the last minute of this tense meeting. As the pressure hit breaking point, the whistle was blown against Valiente with 32 seconds left in play. After review the umpires decided on a no foul call. Orchard Hill challenged the call and won, opting to use their challenge for ball placement. Orchard Hill was again rewarded for their tenacity with a penalty 4. Spectators were left in complete shock as Facundo Pieres missed the game-winning goal, wide and to the left of the posts. Tied as the thirty-second horn sounded, overtime began with a knock-in from Valiente. Cambiaso attempted a drive towards goal but was intercepted by Polito Pieres running the clock down. For the second year in a row, the US Open Final went into an extra chukka. After four minutes of play, two goal attempts from Polito Pieres and one from Cambiaso proved fruitless. With three minutes and thirty-four seconds left on the clock, the ball popped over the boards in midfield resulting in a deciding throw-in. The ball bounced past the throng and Cavanagh tapped the ball through the posts to win the 2017 US Open for Valiente with a final score of 13-12. The United States Polo Association (USPA) presented the Hartman Best Playing Pony of the Open award to B09 owned and played by Adolfo Cambiaso, and the Seymour Knox Most Valuable Player Award to Matias Torres Zavaleta.
The Adolfo Cambiaso led Valiente powerhouse has therefore secured the US Triple Crown having already notched up victories in the C.V. Whitney and The USPA Gold Cup.
Photograph: Orchard Hill’s Facundo Pieres on the ball as Valiente’s Diego Cavanagh hustles to defend. Courtesy of USPA