Alegria Secures U.S. Open Title With Overtime Victory

Alegria denied Valiente polo’s “Triple Crown” with a thrilling overtime victory to claim the 2014 Maserati U.S. Open Championship at the International Polo Club Palm Beach last Sunday.

Six-and-a-half chukkers of all-out polo were punctuated by a penalty call that sent Alegria’s Hilario Ulloa to the 40-yard penalty line where he converted the shot for the 11-10 win over Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, Sapo Caset and Juan Martin Nero).

Alegria (Julian Mannix, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Clemente Zavaleta) scored first on a shot from the field for the 1-0 lead just 35 seconds into the opening chukker. Torres responded with consecutive goals from the field, and Nero made it 3-1 with the closing goal of the chukker.

Alegria got right back into the game in the second. A stellar defensive effort that shut out Valiente was supported by goals from Ulloa and Mannix. After two chukkers, it was all even at 3-3.

Valiente demonstrated its defensive prowess in the third, blanking Alegria while adding a goal on a three-foot penalty shot from Caset. After three chukkers of play, Valiente left the field with a narrow 4-3 halftime edge.

Ulloa and Caset swapped penalty shots to open the fourth period. Ulloa tied it up at 4-4 with a 30-yard penalty conversion. Caset answered back by scoring on a 40-yard penalty shot, making it 5-4, but the rest of the chukker belonged to Alegria. Ulloa scored on three consecutive 30-yard penalty shots, and Alegria moved in front of Valiente by two goals, 7-5.

Caset cut the Alegria lead to a single goal, 7-6, with a 60-yard penalty conversion in the fifth chukker. Three minutes later, Alegria team captain Mannix scored his second goal on the day, making it 8-6. Caset cut the lead back to a single goal on a penalty shot with just 44 seconds on the clock. After five periods of play, Alegria was on top, 8-7.

Torres scored in the opening 30 seconds of the sixth chukker, creating an 8-8 tie. With just under five minutes left in regulation play, Caset hit the ball downfield to himself, and carried it in for a 9-8 lead. Mannix raced down the field with the ball but left it on the doorstep, where Aguerre converted to even the score at 9-9. An Alegria foul resulted in a penalty that allowed Caset to convert from 60 yards out for a 10-9 Valiente lead.

Alegria continued to press the attack and moved the ball down into the Valiente end of the field. A melee in front of the goal allowed Zavaleta an opportunity, and he drove the ball through the posts to end regulation play tied at 10-10.

After a brief intermission, both teams returned to the field for sudden-death overtime. Both Alegria and Valiente had opportunities to score in the early going, with a Valiente foul putting Ulloa on the penalty line some 60 yards out from the goal. The shot went wide, and Valiente tried to regroup. Three minutes later, Valiente fouled along the boards in their own end of the field and Alegria was awarded another penalty attempt, this one from 40 yards out. Ulloa made good on this attempt, giving Alegria the 11-10 victory.

Caset scored five of his game-high six goals on penalty shots. Torres added three goals, and Nero scored once for Valiente. Ulloa scored five times (four on penalty shots). Mannix and Aguerre each scored twice, with Zavaleta adding a goal for Alegria.

Zavaleta was awarded the MVP award, while Ulloa’s Mia received Best Playing Pony honors.

The game capped the 2014 high-goal season at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Learn more at
ABOVE: The victorious Alegria team of Julian Mannix, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Clemente Zavaleta with the trophy. PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILA PHOTO


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