Balladeer’s Blog continues its coverage of the world’s OLDEST team sport. FOR MY PRIMER ON POLO CLICK HERE
SEMIFINAL ONE: ORCHARD HILL VS FLEXJET – Orchard Hill – Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: The Clubmen – are the defending Open champions from last year. Their opponents in this Match, Flexjet – Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: The Aviators – are one of the two teams from this year’s U.S. Open which boast a female team member.
FIRST CHUKKER – Melissa Ganzi and her Flexjet teammates demonstrated once again why they went undefeated in Pool Play and the opening Elimination Round. That earlier excellence earned them a Bye to the Semifinals and the well-rested Aviators shut out Orchard Hill to take a 2 Goals to None lead.
SECOND CHUKKER – The Clubmen showed the proverbial Heart of a Champion this time around, doing just enough to keep Flexjet from getting at their jugular so they could stay alive. Defense was the name of the game in the 2nd as each foursome swatted in just 1 Goal apiece. Orchard Hill now trailed by a count of 3-1.
THIRD CHUKKER – The defending champs not only shut out the Aviators in this Chukker, but they prevented them from getting off even a single shot on Goal from the field! Flexjet did score on a 30-yard Penalty Shot, however, but the Clubmen managed to keep pace with an answering Goal of their own. The teams went into Halftime with the Aviators on top 4-2.
FOURTH CHUKKER – This Match remained a Defensive Epic as the teams went blow for blow and Goal for Goal once again. After exchanging scores from the field the tally stood at 5 Goals for Flexjet and 3 for Orchard Hill.
FIFTH CHUKKER – Compared to the previous 4 Chukkers this was a veritable orgy of scoring! The ball practically flew between the Uprights as the Clubmen thwacked in 3 Goals to the 2 knocked through by the Aviators. Orchard Hill had cut the Flexjet lead to just 7-6.
SIXTH CHUKKER – The Clubmen showed a flair for drama, taking their first lead of the Match in this 6th and (usually) final Chukker. Facundo Pieres scored on Penalty Shots from 40 and 30 yards out PLUS swatted in a Goal from the field to put Orchard Hill on top 9-7. The Aviators pulled off some drama of their own, scoring a pair of Goals for a 9-9 tie before time expired, forcing a Golden Goal situation.
OVERTIME – After a bit of back and forth the Clubmen fouled Flexjet, but they failed to score on a Penalty Shot from 60 yards out. On the next Toss-In reliable Facundo Pieres took the ball with his Mallet and raced into Aviators territory. Pieres scored the Golden Goal to give Orchard Hill a 10-9 victory while simultaneously notching his ONE HUNDREDTH GOAL of the 2017 season!
Needless to say, the amazing Facundo Pieres led the Clubmen with 8 Goals despite not scoring his first of the Match until the Third Chukker.
SEMIFINAL TWO: VALIENTE VS TRAVIESO – Not nearly as much drama in this Match as there was in the first. Valiente – Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: The Valiants – already won the first two events in Polo’s American Triple Crown this year and need to win the U.S. Open to complete the task. Travieso – Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: The Troubadors – are playing in their very first Open.
FIRST CHUKKER – The Valiants scored on the opening Toss-In and kept up the offensive pressure from there. On the other side of the ball they shut out Travieso to seize a 3-0 advantage.
SECOND CHUKKER – Valiente continued dazzling the Troubadors, thwacking in 3 more Goals. Travieso showed some spunk this time around with a pair of answering scores of their own. The Valiants led by a tally of 6-2.
THIRD CHUKKER – Another Chukker and another trio of Goals for Valiente. The Troubadors could only muster one Goal this go ’round so as Halftime arrived the Valiants held a commanding 9-3 lead.
FOURTH CHUKKER – The Match continued in its now-familiar vein. Valiente knocked in 2 Goals while limiting their opponents to just one. The count stood at Valiants 11, Travieso 4.
FIFTH CHUKKER – With the outcome all but determined, there was no sense of urgency. The teams exchanged 1 Goal apiece to head into the final Chukker with Valiente on top 12-5.
SIXTH CHUKKER – The agony for the Troubadors continued. The Valiants outscored Travieso 4 Goals to 1, winning the Match SIXTEEN to SIX and moving on to face Orchard Hill for the title on Sunday.
Diego Cavanagh led the victors with 7 Goals.