By Alex Webbe

The battle between Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Adolfo Cambiaso and Diego Cavanagh) and the defending champion, Orchard Hill (Steve Van Andel, Polito Pieres, Facundo Pieres and Felipe Vercellino) for the 2017 C. V. Whitney Cup at the International Polo Club Sunday afternoon showcased three of the games top -rated players. Ten-goalers Facundo Pieres and Polito Pieres of Orchard Hill and the number one-ranked player in the game today, Valiente’s Adolfo Cambiaso, with Valiente and Cambiaso coming out on top of a 14-11 score for the win.

Orchard Hill took the early lead when a goal was awarded to them on a Penalty 1. A goal from Polito Pieres made it 2-0 before Adolfo Cambiaso got Valiente on the scoreboard, 2-1. Facundo Pieres scored the final goal of the first chukker to give Orchard Hill a 3-1 advantage.

Polito Pieres and Facundo Pieres combined for an opening goal as the second period got underway, with Facundo driving the ball through the Valiente goalposts to make it 4-1. Cambiaso blasted a shot from 100-yards out, 4-2, followed by a 60-yard penalty conversion from teammate Diego Cavanagh, 4-3. Cambiaso’s third goal of the day came on a broken knock-in by Orchard Hill as the 10-goaler tied the game at 4-4. The final goal of the chukker came on an incredible belly-shot by Polito Pieres just off the end-line, giving the 5-4 lead to Orchard Hill.

Third chukker goals from Cambiaso and Cavanagh were accompanied by shutout defense as Orchard Hill struggled to break through the Valiente defenders. At the end of the first half, Valiente found themselves defending a fragile 6-5 lead.

Matias Torres Zavaleta extended the Valiente lead to two goals, 7-5, in the fourth period with his first goal of the game. A penalty goal from Facundo Pieres kept Orchard Hill close, but it was Valiente with the lead, 7-6.

Zavaleta got the Valiente offense going with the opening goal of the fifth chukker, 8-6, and Cavanagh gave them a three-goal lead, 9-6, with his second penalty goal of the day. Polito Pieres countered with a 30-yard penalty goal for Orchard Hill, 9-7. Zavaleta made it 10-7 with his second goal of the chukker, with Facundo Pieres converting a penalty shot for Orchard Hill, 10-8. Cambiaso’s fifth goal of the game extended the Valiente lead to three goals again, 11-8 and Zavaleta’s fourth goal of the game ended the period with Valiente trailing by four goals, 12-8.

Valiente wasted little time pressing the attack in the sixth as Cambiaso took the opening throw-in and raced down the field for another goal, 13-8. Facundo Pieres scored on a penalty shot and Polito Pieres added a goal from the field to make it 13-10. A goal from the field from Facundo Pieres had Orchard Hill within two goals of the lead, 13-11, but time was working against them. A stubborn Valiente defense and a final goal from the field from Cambiaso shut the door on Orchard Hill as Valiente rode off with the 2017 C. V. Whitney Cup, 14-11.

Cambiaso scored a game-high seven goals. Zavaleta impressed all with his aggressive style of play and four goals and Cavanagh added three goals for the win. Facundo Pieres scored four of his team-high six goals from the field. Polito Pieres was credited with four goals (one on a penalty conversion) and the team received one goal on a Penalty 1.

Twenty-six goal action continues at the International Polo club on Sunday, March 12th with the opening games of the 2017 USPA Gold cup. A 10am match will feature Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Julio Arellano and Miguel Astrada) and Valiente with a 3pm game between Orchard Hill and Audi (Marc Ganzi, Tomas Pieres, Gonzalito Pieres and Rodrigo Andrade).
(Photo courtesy of the USPA and David Lominska)

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