Crab Orchard Scores 14-11 Win in US Open Championship
By Alex Webbe
Crab Orchard made it two in a row as it scored an impressive 15-12 win over a veteran Las Monjitas team Sunday afternoon at the International Polo Club in Wellington.
In what Crab Orchard looked at as a rematch of its ill-fated 12-9 loss to Los Monjitas in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup competition a month ago, there would be no last chukker rally by Las Monjitas to win the game. It was Crab orchard 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso scoring his sixth and seventh goal of the day to seal the fate of Las Monjitas in the Crab Orchard victory.
Action got underway quickly in the first chukker with two goals coming in less than ninety seconds of play. Cambiaso opening up the scoring with a long drive for a goal for Crab Orchard which was quickly answered by a goal from Las Monjitasâ€™ Eduardo Astrada.
Nacho Astrada put Las Monjitas up 2-3, but a second goal from Cambiaso had it knotted again at 2-2. Nacho Astradaâ€™s second goal of the chukker returned a 3-2, one goal lead to Las Monjitas, but a foul and an ensuing penalty conversion by Crab Orchardâ€™s Nachi Heguy ended the chukker in a 3-3 tie.
The tide began to turn in Crab Orchardâ€™s favor in the second period. A goal from Jeff Blake pushed Crab Orchard out to a 4-3 advantage before Nacho Astrada tied it again at 4-4. Goals from Cambiaso and Heguy gave Crab Orchard a 6-4 lead until a penalty conversion by Nacho Astrada made it a one goal game at 6-5. That was when Nachi Heguy let everyone in the stadium see the beginning of his best performance of the year. Heguy jumped on the loose ball and drove it down the field for a goal. Moments later, Nachi intercepted a pass and scored another Crab Orchard goal for an 8-5 lead. From that point on, Las Monjitas would struggle to stay in the game.
Crab Orchard left the field at the end of the first half with a 10-7 lead on the strength of two goals from Cambiaso (a penalty conversion and a goal from the field) and was up 12-8 after four chukkers. Brothers Javier and Nacho Astrada each scored a goal for Las Monjitas to stay in the game.
Las Monjitas cut the lead to two goals after the fifth period with Javier Astrada converting two penalty goals and adding another from the field. Nachi Heguy converted a Penalty 2 to keep Crab Orchard from being shut out, but it held on to a two goal lead.
In sixth chukker action, Las Monjitas got into some foul trouble as they scrambled to take possession of the ball. Two penalty conversions by Cambiaso made it 15-11, Crab Orchard, and Las Monjitas saw the writing on the wall.
Javier Astrada would score the final goal of the game, but it would be Crab Orchard who would be sipping the victory champagne on the strength of the 15-12 win.
â€œWinning the Open,â€ said an elated George Rawlings after the game, â€œthereâ€™s nothing to compare with this.â€
And while Cambiaso made it clear that he would not be returning next season, but would be staying in Argentina and playing in the Argentine Polo tour, Crab Orchard team captain George Rawlings intimated that Crab Orchard would not be playing high-goal polo next year, but limiting itself to medium goal play.
Crab Orchardâ€™s Jeff Blake was named MVP and received the coveted Seymour H. Knox Award for his tenacious defensive efforts and unselfish sacrifices on behalf of the team. The Best Playing Pony of the match was Adolfo Cambiasoâ€™s 12-year-old brown Argentine mare, Sylvia. Nacho Astradaâ€™s Pico Blanco, a 13-year-old black Argentine mare received the Willis L. Hartman Trophy for being named the Best Playing Pony of the US Open tournament.
photos by Gregory S. Ratner,Ratner Sports Photography