Lucchese Wins PCO, Sweeps High-Goal, Again!
â€œThatâ€™s why there are two Cees in Lucchese.â€ Offered the announcer, as Adolfo Cambiaso and Jason Crowder combined for ten goals as they galloped off with their third straight West Coast polo championship on Sunday afternoon by capturing the Pacific Coast Open at the Santa Barbara Polo Club with a 10-8 win over ERG.
The Triple Crown sweep by Cambiaso follows his sweep of both the English high-goal season (Queens Cup and British Open) and last winter’s Triple Crown sweep of the IPC season (C. V. Whitney Cup, USPA Piaget Gold Cup and the U. S. Open).
Crowder got Lucchese on the scoreboard first, taking a well-placed backhand pass from Andres Weisz and storming down the field on a breakaway that netted his team the opening goal.
Paco De Narvaez came right back for ERG with a penalty conversion from 30 yards out, but ensuing goals from Crowder and Cambiaso had Lucchese up 3-1 at the end of the first chukker of play.
De Narvaez was injured early in the second period when Cambiaso gave him a hard bump to halt a run at the Lucchese goal. As De Narvaez stood to rein back on his mount, he popped a muscle in his thigh, and he was through for the day.
Umpire rick Sears reported riding over to Cambiaso to inform him that there would be a ten minute delay while De Narvaez fried to see if he could continue. Cambiaso told Sears that De Naevaez would not be returning. He told Sears that he heard his muscle pop when he stood up in his irons.
The talented Argentine 9-goaler was finished, and replacement Hilario Ulloa would end up taking his place.
USPA rules allow for a player from another team entered in the tournament to be used as a replacement if that playerâ€™s team has already been eliminated from the competition, and so the former Zacara 9-goaler took the field in place of the injured De Narvaez.
Both teams battled for control of the ball, as ERG tried to settle around their replacement, with Cambiaso scoring from the field to put Lucchese up, 4-1.
Ulloa followed up on a drive by teammate Santi Torres to score ERGs second goal of the game, but with time running out, Crowder notched his third goal of the afternoon, giving Lucchese a comfortable 5-2 lead.
As unfortunate as the injury to De Narvaez was, the addition of Ulloa to the ERG lineup provided a spark that got the team going. Third chukker goals from Silvestre Donovan and Ulloa were coupled with shutout defense, and the Lucchese lead was cut to a single goal, 5-4, to end the first half of play.
Ulloa opened the second half with a run toward the goal, leaving it for Torres to finish, and the game was tied at 5-5, and the momentum seemed to have shifted, with ERG scoring three unanswered goals.
Crowder stepped up to the plate again, however, giving the lead back to Lucchese, and a penalty conversion by Cambiaso had them up 7-5 with less than 80-seconds left in the chukker.
Keeping the home fires burning once again, Ulloa managed to muscle his way through a couple of defenders to score his third goal of the game, and end the chukker trailing Lucchese, 7-5.
â€œERG is a very talented team,â€ said Carlos Gracida, Piochoâ€™s talented 8-goaler. â€œI never thought for a moment that Lucchese would roll over them.â€
Like the members of six other high-goal teams, Gracida was relegated to the sidelines while Lucchese and ERG battled it out for the 102-year-old trophy.
Luccheseâ€™s first scoring opportunity of the fifth chukker came on a 60-yard penalty shot that was taken by Cambiaso and blocked by Ulloa. In the continuing play, however, Ulloa fouled, and Cambiaso converted the Penalty 2 shot that was placed just yards from the goal line. The Lucchese lead was extended to two goals, 8-6.
ERG bounced right back, with Ulloa taking the following throw-in and racing toward the Lucchese goal. His shot went wide, and Lucchese brought the ball back into play.
Cambiaso stroked the ball far down the field to a streaking Crowder, and the blond-haired Californian stroked it through the goal posts for his fifth goal of the game. Lucchese now led by three goals, 9-6.
In one of his rare faux pas of the game, Cambiaso was caught turning on the ball in front of an oncoming opponent, drawing the umpireâ€™s whistle. The 10-goaler argued the call with the umpire, resulting in a technical penalty, putting ERGâ€™s Donovan on the thirty-yard-line where he converted the shot. The chukker ended with ERG trailing by a pair of goals, 9-7.
The pace continued to accelerate with ERG trying desperately to get back into the game and Lucchese trying equally as hard to add to their lead.
Cambiaso drove the ball towards the ERG goal, but missed wide left. ERG brought the ball up the field but it was taken away by Lucchese, and Crowder converted on a long pass/shot towards the goal from Cambiaso for a 10-7 lead.
With time running out, ERG missed a couple of scoring opportunities, but continued to press its attack. With less than a minute left to play, Ulloa scored his fourth goal of the game for the final 10-8 score. Lucchese had become only the third team in Pacific Coast Open history to take all three high-goal trophies without losing a game.
Crowder led all scoring with six goals. Teammate Cambiaso scored four times for Lucchese.
Ulloa scored four goals for ERG. Donovan scored twice and Torres and De Narvaez added single goals in the loss.
Although the play of ERGâ€™s Hilario Ulloa was inspiring, and young Santi Torres showed talent beyond his years, Jason Crowder was named MVP of the final while Cambiaso was named MVP of the high-goal season. Cambiasoâ€™s 9-year-old Chestnut mare, Noruega (winner of the Willis L. Hartman Trophy as the Best Playing Pony of the 2007 U. S. Open Championship) was named Best Playing Pony.