La Dolfina Win the U.S Open Polo Championship


It was the biggest match up of the U.S season on Sunday 21st April at the National Polo Center in Wellington, Florida as for the third time in 2024 La Dolfina took on Valiente to fight it out for the title. This time it was the U.S Open Polo Championship, the biggest and most prestigious tournament of the season and the finale of the American Triple Crown. Going 1 for 1 in the previous two finals, Valiente winning the CV Whitney cup 12-10 and La Dolfina winning the USPA Gold Cup 12-9 it was best of 3 to see who would come out overall champion.

It was anyone’s game with the two extremely well matched and equally fearsome sides priding themselves on impressive season stat records throughout the season.

The Teams:


La Dolfina went in unbeaten since their loss to Valiente in the first tournament, on a 10 game winning streak and boasting 194 goals in the Gauntlet so far, most out of all teams and with an average of 20 shots on goal per game and a shooting accuracy of 49% placing them as the most accurate team in the roster for the season.

Valiente had suffered one defeat in the U.S Open to Coca Cola, but with the fewest fouls of any team in the Gauntlet as well as the most fouls drawn (66 from Adolfo Cambiaso) and an incredible 96% shooting accuracy from the penalty line (2s and 3s) they had their formidable strengths, as well as boasting the number one player in the world.

These team strengths were reflected in the game. All but 1 goal for La Dolfina came from the field, no surprise with Poroto’s shooting accuracy ahead of the game at 50% (48% from the field) and him holding the title for most amount of goals in the Gauntlet (87 in total going into the final) and assists, while teammate Panelo was scoring in the top 3 for every offensive category stat including best shooting percentage in the Gauntlet at 57% plus 100% from the penalty line.

Meanwhile Valiente played their own strategy, proving the power of drawing fouls with 5 out of 7 of their goals coming from penalties while simultaneously keeping the penalty scoring threat against them low by only giving away 4 fouls in the entire game, only 1 of which was scoreable.

The intensity was high from the off between these teams but it was La Dolfina’s Panelo who drew first blood with a field goal to put them in an early lead. A penalty for Valiente left the score at 1 for 1 and it took a while to get another goal on the scoreboard as the ball flew from end to end in some impressive high goal action, but it was Cambiaso who broke the stalemate with a penalty 4 before a quick reply from Panelo with a clever field goal while Rufino cleared space in front. An evenly matched game, the two sides traded goals throughout the first half with Valiente maintaining the score advantage but La Dolfina constantly equalising. The first 3 goals for Valiente came from penalties, keeping Valiente out in front with their 75% accuracy from the penalty line, before Peke managed to shake the tight La Dolfina defence after a throw in to get their first field goal of the day.

It was all tied up at 5-5 going in to halftime.

La Dolfina played their usual unselfish game throughout, working together well to split the attention of Cambiaso who was forced to choose between defending Poroto or closing down Panelo while Rufino did a huge amount of work away from the ball to clear space for Poroto and Panelo to work their magic and wow the crowds with their telepathic inter-play, pinpoint passes and seamless attacking short plays.

Valiente played their customary formation with Joaquin making space and Peke and Paquito, always perfectly placed, carrying the ball and creating offensive plays while Cambiaso supported behind sending it forward create open playing opportunities for his teammates.

To-ing and fro-ing with heart stopping action throughout the second half the score remained close and the play intense. La Dolfina went into the final chukka in the lead for the first time since the first goal having managed to neutralise the Valiente offensive and leave them goal-less in the 5th.

As was their strength throughout the tournament, it was the off the ball plays that finally won La Dolfina the game. In the final chukka, Rufino, completely undefended running down the centre of the field, took a perfect pass from Poroto off a casual but unbelievably accurate little backhand pass from Panelo in the epitome of team play which to put them 9-7 in the lead taking the wind out of Valiente’s sails and putting them out of reach of the white side before Panelo put the final clincher on it with another field goal to run out the winners 10-7.

Chukka Breakdown:


Score Progression:


Game Statistics: