Valiente plastered Coca-Cola 17-12 as the U.S. Open Polo Championship continued last Sunday at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. In other action, Orchard Hill defeated Audi 12-8, and Flexjet topped Travieso 11-9 in the 3 p.m. featured match.
Valiente Victory — In one of the most dominant offensive performances of the season, Valiente was an unstoppable force after Coca-Cola made a push early in the game.
After a quick opening goal by Adolfo Cambiaso, Coca-Cola answered back with two goals. The first came from a smooth pass from Julian de Lusarreta that was finished off by Miguel Novillo Astrada, and the second on an amazing nearside neck shot from Julio Arellano with Cambiaso on his hip. However, after that, it was all Valiente, which scored six straight goals on seven shot attempts, all from the field. Matias Torres Zavaleta scored once, Cambiaso added two more, and Diego Cavanagh scored his first three goals of the day to push the Valiente lead to 7-2.
Three fouls from Valiente in the third chukker resulted in two penalty conversions for Coca-Cola, getting them back within three goals, but Valiente just could not be stopped.
Valiente blew the game up in the fifth chukker, scoring five goals and preventing Coca-Cola from getting a single shot at goal to build up a huge 17-8 lead.
In a game that had a combined six knock-ins but 24 goals from the field, Valiente rarely missed, rolling to a 17-12 victory to move to 2-0 in the U.S. Open.
Orchard Hill Cruises Past Audi — With both teams coming off an opening loss, the first game in the second round of play saw Orchard Hill come out strong, taking advantage of early foul trouble from Audi.
Facundo Pieres made both attempts in the first chukker to improve on his already impressive 78 percent penalty shooting record.
Audi had a tough time containing Facundo Pieres, who scored the first six Orchard Hill goals in the game, but the masterful play of Nic Roldan kept Audi in the mix. Alejandro Novillo Astrada played a strong back and came forward for two goals from the field in the first half. Audi played strong as a team throughout the first half, supporting each other well on offensive attacks and matching Orchard Hill shot-for-shot.
Shooting accuracy became an issue for Audi, which prevented the team from staying in the game against a tough Orchard Hill team. Facundo Pieres got some additional scoring in the second half with Polito Pieres converting a penalty 2 and Juan Chavanne finishing off a long run.
Ultimately, the game came down to efficiency, as both teams had nearly identical stats. The efficiency quotient for Orchard Hill came from Facundo Pieres, who was 100 percent from the penalty line on the game, converting all four attempts. He added five goals from the field to lead his Orchard Hill team to a 12-8 victory.
Flexjet Outplays Travieso — Travieso came out with a stronger performance after having one game under its belt. The team got off to an early 4-2 lead behind one field goal each from Sebastian Merlos, Alfredo Capella and Mariano Gonzalez. That, plus a penalty conversion for Gonzalez, had Travieso looking strong.
Flexjet, however, had opportunities and generated just as many chances as Travieso, but missed all four shot attempts in the first chukker. Nico Pieres and Melissa Ganzi were both able to put shots through the goal for Flexjet. But they finished the third chukker shooting two for nine from the field and trailed 6-4 at the half.
All the chances Flexjet had paid off in the second half, as back-to-back penalty 2 conversions from Gonzalito Pieres got the ball rolling. Rodrigo Andrade took over the offense from there in his best stretch of polo thus far on the season. Andrade scored two goals in the fifth chukker, adding another in the sixth to help give Flexjet its first lead.
Travieso had difficulty getting the ball out of its half of the field, resulting in constant pressure. Merlos finally broke away for a goal from a knock-in, but it wasn’t enough. Flexjet won the second half 7-3 and finished the game with an 11-9 victory.
All eight players on the field found the scoresheet, with Mariano Gonzalez and Gonzalito Pieres leading their respective teams with five goals each.
The polo season at IPC runs through April 23 with a wide array of social options available each Sunday afternoon. For more info., visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.
ABOVE: Facundo Pieres in action during Orchard Hill’s victory over Audi.