Crab Orchard begins the Open with an impressive win
By Alex Webbe
Itâ€™s not often that you have the opportunity of seeing the top two players in the world in competition on opposing teams, but this Sunday in the US Open polo championship competition at the International Polo Club in Wellington a hearty crowd was treated to one of the best polo games of the season.
Four goals were scored in the first two and-a-half minutes of play as Facundo Pieres and his Zacara teammates battled it out with Adolfo Cambiaso and the Crab Orchard team in the opening round of play in the 107th U. S. Open polo championship. Cambiaso scored the final goal of the first chukker, giving Crab Orchard a 3-2 lead, as they rolled on to salvage a 15-14 win over an equally talented Zacara foursome.
The last time these two teams met was in USPA Piaget Gold Cup play where Zacara got the best of Cambiaso and company in a 14-11 win. Taking to the field without team captain Lyndon Lea (a reported broken collar bone), the Zacara team had to work 2-goaler Juan Jo Gonzalez into the lineup while dealing with a determined and Cambiaso.
Cambiaso scored all three first chukker goals for Crab Orchard with his nemesis Facundo Pieres scoring both of Zacaraâ€™s goals.
Crab Orchard got second chukker goals from Hilario Ulloa and Nachi du Plessis with Pieres scoring his third goal of the game. The play was fast and furious, and shots at goal were in abundance. After two periods of play, Crab Orchard held a 5-3 advantage.
Cambiaso added two more goals in the third while Zacara missed a couple of scoring opportunities. Pieres converted a penalty shot for a goal, but Crab Orchard led at halftime, 7-4.
The pace seemed to accelerate in the fourth chukker with Pieres stealing the ball at one end of the 300 yard long field and racing to the other to score. Cambiaso and du Plessis scored single goals for a 9-5 lead, but Pieres and Merlos each got a goal to end the period trailing Crab orchard, 9-7.
Cambiaso exploded for a goal to open the fifth, but two consecutive scores from Pieres cut the Crab Orchard lead to a single goal, 10-9. Cambiaso retaliated, scoring a goal from the throw-in to restore its two goal lead. Goals from Pieres and Mariano Uranga ended the chukker with the teams deadlocked at 11-11.
Cambiaso opened the final chukker of play with a goal from the field to give Crab orchard a 12-11 advantage. Ulloa scored to make it 13-11, and it looked as if Zacara were fading. Pieres scored followed by another Ulloa goal. Crab Orchard held the lead, 14-12.
Pieres jacked it up a notch and scored a goal to cut the Crab Orchard to a single goal, 14-13, followed by a game tying goal from Sebastian Merlos with 1:24 left on the game clock.
With both teams battling for control of the ball in the final seconds of play, a Zacara foul put Crab Orchard at the penalty line with less than a minute to play. Cambiaso converted the 60-yard penalty shot for the winning goal as time ran out.
Pieres led all scoring with an amazing eleven goals. Merlos scored twice and Uranga scored once in the loss.
Cambiasoâ€™s ten goals powered the Crab orchard efforts. Ulloa scored three times and du Plessis scored twice.
LECHUZA 11, FARAWAY 7
In morning play in US Open competition, Lechuza flexed its muscles as it handed Faraway an 11-7 loss. Stating that the loss of Nic Roldan (separated right shoulder) cost the Faraway team a bit of it offense would be an understatement as Lechuza rode out to a 5-1 halftime lead before dealing Faraway an 11-7 thrashing that wasnâ€™t as close as the score might indicate.
Turning in another spectacular performance, Lechuzaâ€™s Sapo Caset made it look easy, scoring his teamâ€™s first two goals of the game in the opening chukker and four of the teamâ€™s five first half goals. Juan Martin Nero scored Lechuzaâ€™s only other first half goal, with Mike Azzaro getting Faraway on the scoreboard in the third before the first half ended.
Faraway picked up goals from Lucas Monteverde and Luis Escobar (substituting for the injured Nic Roldan), while holding Lechuza to a single penalty goal from Caset. After four chukkers of play, Lechuza carried a 6-3 advantage.
Two more goals from Caset in the fifth and a goal from Martin Espain gave Lechuza a 9-3 lead. Azzaro closed out the scoring with a goal from the field, but Lechuza continued to led, 9-4.
The final chukker of play had Caset scoring his eighth goal of the match to give Lechuza a 10-4 lead as an offensively depleted Faraway team struggled to put up a good front. Two consecutive gals from Azzaro were followed by a goal from Escobar, cutting the Lechuza lead to three goals, 10-7, but there wasnâ€™t enough time or offense left. Caset ended the game with a final goal for the 11-7 Lechuza win.
HAWKS BEAT PIAGET 12-4
Freddie Mannix and his Hawks beat Piaget by a 12-4 score in the dayâ€™s noon contest, holding the Piaget team to a single goal in the first three chukkers of play.
Two goals from Freddie Mannix in the first chukker were answered by a single goal from Piagetâ€™s Lolo Castagnola in the second. Five unanswered goals from the Hawks in the third (three from Mariano Aguerre and a goal apiece from Freddie Mannix and his younger brother Julian Mannix) had the Hawks commanding a 7-1 halftime lead.
Freddie Mannix added four more goals in the second half with Mariano adding a single penalty goal to the Hawks total for the 12-4 final. Piaget notched a single goal from Nachi Heguy in the fourth and a pair of goals from Castagnola in the sixth.
US Open play will continue on Wednesday, March 30 with games at 10am (Valiente vs. Pony Express), 2pm (Audi vs. Orchard Hill) and 4 pm (Bendabout vs. Las Monjitas).