Facing a rematch of the C.V. Whitney Cup Final, Scone and Park Place each prepared to leave it all on the field one last time at the U.S. Open Polo Championship Final held Sunday, April 18 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington.
A formidable contender as the only team to reach all three finals, Scone (David Paradice, Adolfo Cambiaso, Poroto Cambiaso and Peke Gonzalez) met Park Place (Andrey Borodin, Matt Coppola, Juan Britos and Hilario Ulloa) with both teams looking for their second trophy in the 2021 Gauntlet of Polo.
Ending the half in the lead, Scone gradually took control of the game in the second half to cap off the season with the 14-13 win and $200,000 in prize money. Marking polo star Adolfo Cambiaso’s ninth U.S. Open Polo Championship title overall, it was the first victory playing with his son.
Coppola opened up the first chukker for Park Place with a powerful cutshot to goal. After each team added a penalty conversion, Coppola struck a second time off a well-placed pass from Ulloa. Learning after two close losses to Park Place that every goal counts, Scone quickly retaliated with Poroto Cambiaso winning the throw-in and heading straight to goal. “Our strategy today was to play as we had been playing, passing the ball, playing as a team, being in order defensively and facing the game with a lot of confidence,” he said.
Always looking for opportunities to set up his teammates, Paradice held off Ulloa, giving Adolfo Cambiaso time to level the score 3-3 at the beginning of the second. The scoreboard remained tied as the evenly matched teams fought to establish a lead in the third. Scoring three consecutive goals, including two off the mallet of Poroto Cambiaso, Scone worked efficiently to create its largest lead yet, which they would build on in the second half. Holding Park Place to one goal per chukker in the second and third, Scone entered halftime ahead 7-5.
As the penalty opportunities added up in the second half, accuracy from the penalty line became a greater factor in maintaining the advantage. Scoring consecutive goals in the fourth, Gonzalez raced forward to receive a beautiful pass from Adolfo Cambiaso, which he carried to goal. Keeping his team in the game, Ulloa fired his third Penalty 2 between the posts, but Poroto Cambiaso managed to evade defenders and sneak in another goal. As the teams battled for possession in the fifth, Adolfo Cambiaso took advantage of a broken play when the ball was left sitting just in front of Park Place’s goal. Responsible for all of Park Place’s goals in the second half, Ulloa answered back on a breakaway to keep the tally within three.
Entering the final chukker up 11-8, Scone had to remain vigilant after witnessing Park Place’s late comeback in the semifinal. Although a choppy sixth chukker with fouls on both sides, Scone was able to hold onto the lead. Adolfo Cambiaso lofted the ball out of the pack from distance to score his fourth goal of the day. As Gonzalez continued to prove deadly from the penalty line, Ulloa attempted to initiate a comeback in the final minutes. Riding off Poroto Cambiaso, Ulloa made an impressive nearside shot to initiate the campaign, ultimately adding five goals in one chukker.
As all four matchups throughout the season were decided within one goal, Scone claimed the narrow win 14-13, allowing 15-year-old Poroto Cambiaso to join Nic Roldan as the youngest player to win the tournament.
“This win means everything to me, it’s amazing!” Gonzalez said. “It’s what we have been working for the whole season, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am very thankful to the entire Scone team, Adolfito and Poroto for giving me the opportunity to play with them, and everyone involved.”
Winning two of the three tournaments his first time competing in the Gauntlet of Polo, Poroto Cambiaso has accomplished much in his young career. “It’s a pleasure to play with this team,” he said. “I want to thank Bob Jornayvaz who rented us all the horses, and it’s incredible to win with a friend like Peke, my dad and David.”
Although Adolfo Cambiaso has won the U.S. Open Polo Championship numerous times, sharing the victory with his son was especially meaningful. “Winning with my son is unbelievable,” he said. “Ten years ago, he was only five years old, so it was a dream that was kind of far away, and today it came true. I never thought that I was going to be in the position that I am now, playing in the U.S. Open Polo Championship Final with my 15-year-old son and winning, so I’m really happy. I want to thank David Paradice for trusting me to play with someone who is so young.”
In addition to the title, Scone received $200,000 in prize money while Park Place was awarded $50,000 as the runners-up. In partnership with USPA Global Licensing, this year’s Gauntlet of Polo embraced the spirit of giving with nonprofit charities chosen by the finalists also receiving a donation. Scone chose to divide the $10,000 between the Homes for Horses Coalition and Polo For Life, while Park Place contributed to the Polo Players Support Group and Replay Polo.
Adolfo Cambiaso was named the Seymour Knox Most Valuable Player, while 10-year-old Argentine mare Gete Leonor received the Willis L. Hartman Trophy for the U.S. Open Polo Championship Final, played in the second and sixth chukkers by Adolfo Cambiaso. In addition to receiving Best Playing Pony for her performance in the U.S. Open Polo Championship with Adolfo Cambiaso, 8-year-old Lovelocks Camusericht was also presented with Best Playing Pony of the Gauntlet of Polo and IPC Horse of the Year.
Although Adolfo Cambiaso celebrated his 46th birthday on the day of the semifinals, he remained focused on his goal. “I never thought about my birthday,” he said. “My mind was always on this day, and I was only thinking about winning the U.S. Open Polo Championship Final. We came to win.”
Having a successful first Gauntlet season, Paradice is looking forward to next season with the Cambiasos, and hopefully getting to bring back Peke Gonzalez.
“It’s great to win with nice people and great families. I just love it,” he said. “It has also been great to watch father and son play together and to have a young player like Peke Gonzalez. This is what it’s all about, family and playing with the right teammates who have integrity and just want to get the job done. A lot of people contributed to this win, including Bob Jornayvaz, Tim Gannon, the Packer family and Pelon Stirling, and I’m very fortunate for Bob Jornayvaz for making it possible for me to play on this team.”