Balladeer’s Blog continues its coverage of the world’s OLDEST team sport.
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Polo’s U.S. Open was first played in 1904 and has become one of the most prestigious events on the Polo calendar. Moreover, it is the third of the Big Three Polo Matches held in the U.S. each year.
Valiente – Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: the Valiants – come into the U.S. Open having already won the first two titles in the American Triple Crown – the U.S. Polo Association Gold Cup and the C.V. Whitney Cup. If the Valiants can win the Open as well they will have taken that Triple Crown.
Yesterday’s opening match at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach was full of drama. The Defending Champions of the U.S. Open, Orchard Hill – Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: the Clubmen – played Valiente as the Polo World sat riveted.
FIRST CHUKKER – Polito Pieres swatted in a Goal from the field to give Orchard Hill a 1-0 lead but the next Toss-In saw Valiente’s Adolfo Cambiaso tie things up at 1-1. Facundo Pieres scored a Goal on a Penalty Shot from 40 yards out to put the Clubmen back on top 2-1. His teammates Jota Chavanne and Polito Pieres each scored a Goal from the field but the Valiants’ Diego Cavanagh scored on two separate 40-yard Penalty Shots to make the score 4-3 in favor of Orchard Hill.
SECOND CHUKKER – Besides trailing on the scoreboard Valiente lost Matias Torres Zavaleta to an injury in the opening Chukker. Pablo Spinacci replaced him and accomplished the seemingly impossible task of shutting out Facundo Pieres of the Clubmen, whose only scores in the Match came from Penalty Shots. This Second Chukker was typical of that kind of stellar defense and ended with Orchard Hill on top by just 5-4.
THIRD CHUKKER – The Valiants thwacked in 2 Goals to the 1 scored by the Clubmen in Chukker number Three, leaving the count all tied up at 6-6 as the two teams headed into Halftime.
FOURTH CHUKKER – Orchard Hill came alive for 2 Goals after the break, with Valiente staying close with 1 of their own. The score now stood at 8 for the Clubmen and 7 for the Valiants.
FIFTH CHUKKER – This sextant saw Orchard Hill’s offense explode for 3 Goals while their defense held Valiente to just one score of their own. Headed into the Sixth and final Chukker the Clubmen seemed on their way to a win as they held an 11-8 advantage.
SIXTH CHUKKER – The Valiants completely blanked Orchard Hill in this Chukker while relentlessly closing in on their opponents by adding 2 more Goals. With the Clubmen’s lead now cut to just 11-10, Orchard Hill’s tendency toward fouls in this game struck once again. Diego Cavanagh made the resulting Penalty Shot from 60 yards out to tie the game at 11-all. Neither team scored again, sending the Match into Overtime and a Golden Goal situation.
OVERTIME – Just as an Orchard Hill foul set up Diego Cavanagh to tie the Match in the 6th, another Orchard Hill foul set him up for a 30-yard Penalty Shot in Overtime. Cavanagh smacked the ball between the Uprights, giving Valiente a 12-11 win in Pool Play to end Day One. Diego led the victors with 9 Goals total.
** Day Two of the U.S. Open will feature a pair of Matches as Flexjet (The Aviators) take on Audi (The Bavarians) and Coca Cola (The Red Colossus) do battle with Travieso (The Troubadors).
* BRING BACK POLO AS AN OLYMPIC EVENT! *