Crab Orchard picks up Piaget Gold Cup in 12-7 win
By Alex Webbe
A veteran and balanced Crab Orchard attack scored seven straight goals from the third chukker to the fifth in taking the 2010 USPA Piaget Gold Cup championship Sunday afternoon in the finals against Las Monjitas at the International Polo Club.
â€œI was both pleased and excited to see over five thousand spectators on hand for the championship game,â€œ said Yves Piaget who was on hand for the game and the presentation ceremony. â€œIt was like the old days at Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. I am so pleased that Piaget has taken such an active part in this great game.â€
In a slow â€“starting championship game, Las Monjitas got on the scoreboard first with penalty goals from brothers Javier and Alejandro Astrada. Crab Orchard got a goal from Hilario Ulloa to end the chukker trailing 2-1.
Julio Arellano tied the score at 2-2 with a penalty conversion followed by a go-ahead goal from Adolfo Cambiaso. Arellanoâ€™s second goal 0f the chukker, a ninety-yard shot through the goal posts, had Crab Orchard ahead 4-2 until Javier Astrada managed a chukker ending goal for Las Monjitas. Crab Orchard held on to a 4-3 lead.
Defenses tightened in the third chukker, with Cambiaso supplying all of the firepower with a pair of goals from the field, and the teams ended the first half with Crab Orchard holding a 6-3 advantage.
Crab Orchard returned to the pitch in the fourth chukker a renewed team. A goal from Ulloa was followed by a pair of goals from Arellano. Cambiaso scored his fourth goal of the game to end the period with Crab Orchard holding on to a commanding 10-3 lead.
Although it was Las Monjitas team captain Camilo Bautistaâ€™s first game back since an early season injury, and their injured 10-goaler, Eduardo Astrada was replaced by Facundo Pieres, Crab Orchard was the far superior team from offense to defense.
Ulloa put Crab Orchard up 11-3 in the opening seconds of the fifth chukker before the sleeping offense of Las Monjitas got back on track. Javier Astrada scored Las Monjitasâ€™ first goal since the second chukker, and on a subsequent play, carried the ball the length of the field before having a goal shot blocked by Cambiaso. With under three minutes left in the period, Alejandro Astrada converted a penalty goal for Las Monjitas, but the chukker ended with Crab Orchard holding a very comfortable lead of 11-5 with one chukker left to be played.
As if to remind the large Sunday crowd who they came to see, Cambiaso scored his fifth goal of the game to put Crab Orchard ahead by seven goals, 12-5.
Las Monjitas continued to try to organize an attack, but had to settle for a penalty goal from Alejandro Astrada before getting one last field goal from Javier Astrada.
The final horn sounded as the Crab Orchard celebrated its second consecutive major tournament championship of the year with a 12-7 win.
Hilario Ulloa was named MVP while Julio Arellanoâ€™s Blue Dragon was named Best Playing Pony.
BENDABOUT/WANDERERS 12. AUDI 9
Earlier in the day, the Bendabout/Wanderers team took advantage of two goals by handicap to capture the 201- Butler Handicap in a 12-9 win over the high-powered Audi foursome.
Audi took the field with two of the worldâ€™s ten goal players with brothers Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres, and their reputation as the 2009 US Open Champions, but couldnâ€™t overcome the determination of a patchwork 24-goal Bendabout team who took the trophy in a 12-9 game.
The contest was close in the opening chukkers with the teams battling to a 5-5 halftime score until Bendabout turned up the heat in the second half. With goals from Sugar Erskine, Jeff Hall and Mike Azzaro, Bendabout took an 8-7 lead after the fourth, while limiting Audi to a field goal from Gonzalito Pieres and a penalty conversion from brother Facundo.
Bendabout put three more goals on the scoreboard in the fifth chukker as a sputtering Audi offense managed a single penalty goal, falling behind 10-8.
Hall converted a penalty shot in the sixth followed by Erskineâ€™s fourth goal of the game to make it 12-8. A late goal from Gonzalito Pieres gave Audi the last word in a 12-9 Bendabout victory.
Sugar Erskine was named MVP while his horse, McPollo received Best Playing Pony Honors.
High-goal polo action will continue next weekend at the International Polo Club with the start of the 2010 United States Open Championship.