The fifth day of the 2020 King Power Gold Cup resulted in a successful day for the Park Place organization, capturing two victories against difficult opponents. Park Place Vaara overwhelmed the lone undefeated team Les Lions/Great Oaks with the impressive 16-7 victory, while Park Place captured a thrilling 10-9 victory over Next Generation at Cowdray Park Polo Club.
A dominant performance from Park Place Vaara against Les Lions/Great Oaks was highlighted by the play of Will Harper, who finished with six goals and was a crucial part of Park Place Vaara’s efficient attack that finished 12 for 18 from the field. After scoring 14 goals in each of their first two games, Les Lions/Great Oaks struggled to capitalize on their opponunties, converting just one of their four penalty attempts and shooting just 38% from the field in the nine-goal defeat.
Just 40 seconds into the game, Santiago Laborde opened the scoring for Les Lions/Great Oaks as they looked to continue their dominant offense seen throughout the tournament. Park Place Vaara quickly responded, stringing together three unanswered goals, two of which came from the penalty line to hold a 3-2 lead at the conclusion of the opening chukka. A back and forth battle carried into the remainder of the first half with Park Place Vaara relying on their two young players out front as Zac Beim and Will Harper contributed a goal each to maintain the one-goal advantage. Back-to-back goals from Harper and Ulloa extended Park Place Vaara’s lead to three, but before the end of the half, Alejandro Muzzio brought the deficit back to two at halftime.
The momentum in the game tilted in Park Place’s favour with Juan Britos distributing the ball effectively and allowing Harper to continue producing at the front of the game. Perfect 3 for 3 shooting extended Park Place Vaara’s lead to four, leaving Les Lions/Great Oaks stunned and unable to keep pace on the scoreboard. Foul trouble for Les Lions/Great Oaks in the fifth chukka ended hopes of a comeback, conceding two penalty goals to Park Place Vaara. Three goals for Ulloa in the final chukka completed the dominant Park Place Vaara performance for the 16-7 victory.
A highly anticipated match featured Park Place’s Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres go head-to-head against Next Generation’s Adolfo Cambiaso and David Stirling in what proved to be a thrilling finish. Little separated the two teams with Park Place holding the narrow edge from the field in shots at goal, but tough defence on both sides of the ball resulted in difficult scoring opportunities. Half the goals in the game were scored from the penalty line, including three second half penalty conversions for Facundo Pieres, including a game winning penalty 2 conversion in the final seconds of the match to capture the 10-9 victory.
Holding a one-goal advantage on handicap, Park Place maintained that lead at the end of the first chukka after Facundo Pieres and David Stirling traded goals. Four fouls committed by Next Generation resulted in a penalty 4 conversion along with additional possessions that led to a Kian Hall field goal and a 4-2 lead. Entering a crucial stage of the game, Next Generation responded with a dominant 3-0 third chukka, quickly turning a two-goal deficit into a one-goal lead at the end of the half due to a penalty conversion each from Adolfo Cambiaso and Stirling, along with Poroto Cambiaso’s second goal of the match.
Set up for a thrilling finish, Park Place came out reorganized, scoring three straight goals to begin the second half, thanks to the duo of Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres. Field goals were hard to come by in the final stages of the match, with the teams fighting hard over the final two chukkas. Trading one penalty goal each, Park Place maintained their slim one-goal advantage entering the sixth and final chukka. Superb action on the ball to begin the sixth chukka displayed the efforts of Poroto Cambiaso, who took possession into the attacking half on the nearside before eventually stealing the ball from Facundo Pieres, tying the score at 8-8. Moments later, Adolfo Cambiaso converted a shot from distance, despite being in traffic, leaving Next Generation just minutes away from victory. As the battle intensified, Andrey Borodin broke in behind the Next Generation defence, scoring under immense pressure to restore the tie. On the following play, the ball jumped over the mallet of Stirling and Borodin played the hero, jumping on the line to draw the foul. A penalty 2 conversion for Facundo Pieres as time ran out secured the memorable 10-9 victory for Park Place in the match of the tournament thus far.