Coca-Cola and Valiente face off in the 2017 USPA Gold Cup® final (the second 26-goal final of the season) Sunday, March 26 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). Coca-Cola is coming off strong back-to-back wins over Audi and Orchard Hill, while Valiente has continued their dominant performance, remaining undefeated in 26-goal contests. Both teams are thrilling to watch. They use similar line-ups to produce some of the most effective team play seen to date in the 2017 season. Here’s a look at how they are positioned to play and what the stats say about Sunday.
Valiente: Bob Jornayvaz (2)
Patrons Gillian Johnston and Bob Jornayvaz, both rated at 2 goals, are important components of their respective teams but contribute in somewhat different ways. Johnston is more offensively minded, pulling Coca-Cola forward. She shot at goal 6 times during the Gold Cup, scoring on 2 of those chances. Jornayvaz is one of the best players in terms of positioning and blocking the appropriate players to free up Cavanagh and Cambiaso to attack forward, making him a critical player in Valiente’s success. Watch for him to play a key role in the final.
Coca-Cola: Julian de Lusarreta (7)
Valiente: Matias Torres Zavaleta (6)
Throughout the 2017 season, de Lusarreta and Zavaleta have both been impressive, often playing above their handicaps. Ranked first and third respectively in field goals per game during the Gold Cup, these two are among the most exciting players to watch. De Lusarreta has produced the most shots in the Gold Cup with 20 and is tied with Adolfo Cambiaso for the throw-in lead at 19 throw-in wins. De Lusarreta is an extremely active player, always involved in the play.
Zavaleta, coming off his MVP performance in the C.V. Whitney Cup final, has continued to be a key player for Valiente, shooting a very efficient 58% from the field—which makes him a popular target for Cambiaso downfield. Zavaleta plays an intense style, always applying pressure on the ball. While that produces a lot of goals, it has also led to him making the second most fouls in the Gold Cup, something Valiente will need to guard against Sunday.
Coca-Cola: Julio Arellano (8)
Valiente: Diego Cavanagh (8)
Both players in the #3 position are tasked with taking the penalty shots for their respective teams, with Arellano converting 5 of 10 (50%) attempts this season and Cavanagh converting 14 of 17 (82%). Cavanagh was impressive in the semifinal against Audi, scoring 11 goals to tie Facundo Pieres for the tournament lead with 21. Clearly Cavanagh is a very dangerous opponent who Coca-Cola needs to remain focused on. Arellano also scores goals from the field, scoring 6 through three games and instinctively knowing when to drive forward or stay back and provide support to his teammates.
Coca-Cola: Miguel Novillo Astrada (9)
Valiente: Adolfo Cambiaso (10)
The two highest-rated players on the field, Novillo Astrada and Cambiaso are the consummate backs, always in the right position defensively and passing at a high level to their teammates downfield. Tied for third in field goals per game at 2.3, Cambiaso is still very effective at scoring on his own, but his ability to control the game is second to none. Tied for the tournament lead in throw-in wins, Coca-Cola will have to be aware of Cambiaso in the line-ups, as he often gains possession and turns it into a scoring chance for his team. Novillo Astrada may be the main reason why de Lusarreta can produce the most shots at goal because Novillo Astrada provides support from the back position. He is also more than capable of scoring, as he is also tied for third in field goals per game, while winning 15 throw-ins for a Coca-Cola team that is very strong on throw-ins.
Game report, stats and photographs provided by International Polo Club Palm Beach.
These photographs may be used one time and only in conjunction with this press release.These photographs may be used one time and only in conjunction with this press release.