Zacara successfully defends US Open, beats Valiente, 16–13

Zacara defends 2012 US Open title with a 16-13 win overValiente


ByAlex Webbe

Zacara successfully defended its 2012 US Open Crown witha solid 16-13 win over A Valiente team they lost to just weeks earlier.  It was only weeks earlier that Valiente had beatenZacara 13-9 a in the finals of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup, but this Sundaybelonged to Zacara.  In a neck-and-neckgame that had the score tied eight times, Zacara emerged victorious on thestrength of a 16-13 win over a powerful Valiente lineup.

“For two days we spent hours and hours reviewing gamefilms,” said Zacara patron, Lyndon Lea. â€œWe wanted to see what they did differently when they ran all over ateam than when they had a closer match,” offered Lea.

The work appeared to pay off, but it was no easy task inthe early goings.

Facundo Pieres was on the scoring end of a pass from MagooLaprida for the first goal of the game to put Zacara in the lead, 1-0.  A minute later Valiente patron Bob Jornayvazbroke free of a Zacara defender to tie it up, 1-1.  A 60-yard penalty conversion from Pieres wasanswered less than a minute later when Cambiaso converted on a pass fromStirling to tie it up at 2-2.  MikeAzzaro drove the ball through the goalposts when he scored on a 45 yard shot ongoal for a 3-2 advantage.   Santi Torresclosed out the scoring in the chukker with a pair of penalty conversions for a4-3 lead.

After seven first chukker goals, the pace became moreguarded and deliberate in the second. Torres stole the ball from Zacara’s Mike Azzaro around midfield andraced down the field for a score on a great individual effort, 5-3.  Pieres added another goal from the penalty line,5-4.  Magoo Laprida scored for Zacara ona pass from Pieres to tie it up at 5-5. Valiente had the opportunity to re-take the lead on a penalty shot, butthe shot was blocked and the period ended in a 5-5 deadlock.

Third chukker actin got underway with a goal from thefield from Pieres at 6:49 for a 6-5 lead. Cambiaso beat Laprida on a play to the goal, and it was all even at6-6.  Pelon Stirling scored his firstgoal of the game for a 7-6 Valiente advantage.  A goal from Torres had Zacara trailing by two,8-6 at the 1:31 mark, but Laprida drew Zacara within a goal with a score in thefinal minute of the chukker.  At the endof the first half of play, Valiente held a tenuous 8-7 lead.

It was just over a minute into the second half of playwhen Stirling’s second goal of the game had Valiente ahead, 9-7, but that waswhen the tables turned.  Pieres connectedon two consecutive 60-yard penalty shots to tie it up at 9-9.  An impressive 100-yrd shot from the field fromPieres split the goalposts and ended the period with Zacara holding on to adelicate 10-9 edge.

Valiente fouled their way into trouble in the openingseconds of the fifth chukker, as Pieres converted another 60-yard penalty shotfor a goal, 11-9.  Torres responded witha goal of his own to cut the Zacara lead to a single goal, 11-10.  Pieres added another penalty goal to theZacara total on a 40-yard penalty conversion, 12-10, when Valiente got back ontrack.  Valiente took advantage of Zacaramiscues to add three more goals to their total. Cambiaso scored goals on two penalty opportunities to knot it up at12-12, and Torres gave the lead back to Valiente on his second penaltyconversion of the chukker for a 13-12 Valiente lead with one chukker left inregulation time.

Less than a minute into the sixth chukker, 6:37, Pierestied it up on another penalty conversion. As Valiente struggled to right the ship, Pieres gave Zacara the leadback, 14-13 on his eighth penalty goal of the match (5:03).  Laprida gave Zacara some breathing room withless than two minutes left on the clock to move Zacara ahead by two goals,15-13.  Valiente got desperate, and thefouls kept coming.   Valiente found themselves awarded a penaltyshot at midfield when Cambiaso protested. When the umpire placed the ball on the spot, Cambiaso argues theplacement of the ball and hit it forward, resulting in a final penalty againstValiente.  For the ninth time, Piereswould convert a penalty shot, and with 1:02 left in the game, Zacara was ontop, 16-13.  Cambiaso removed himself fromthe game, at this point, and Zacara celebrated their successful defense of theUS Open trophy.

Pieres led all scoring with an incredible 12 goals, nineon penalty shots, and was named MVP. Laprida added three goals and Azzaro scored once.  Torres led the Valiente attack with six goals(four on penalties).  Cambiaso scored twoof his four goals on penalty shots. Stirling scored twice and Jornayvaz added a goal in a losing effort.

Bob Jornayvaz’s Medallion (played by Stirling) was namedBest Playing Pony while Corcha, a seven-year-old American Thoroughbred Bay marewas named Horse of the Year.