WELLINGTON, Fla. – March 5, 2017 – In a full-force display of organization and teamwork, Valiente snatched a 14-11 victory over Orchard Hill to ride home with the 2017 C.V. Whitney Cup. The clean, fast game unfolded on Engel & Völkers field at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC).
From the get-go, Valiente wisely concentrated on not putting Facundo Pieres on the penalty line. Pieres was shooting a very efficient 71% heading into the game. Throughout the first half, Valiente only fouled 3 times and gave Pieres just one penalty attempt.
Directly off the first throw-in, Orchard Hill drove downfield, pressuring the Valiente defense. Felipe Vercellino picked up a penalty 1 goal to give Orchard Hill an early lead and repossession of the ball. Shortly afterward Polito Pieres finished off a run to give Orchard Hill a 2-0 advantage.
The game turned in the third chukker when Valiente controlled play, not allowing Orchard Hill to register a shot on goal from the field or penalty line. Adolfo Cambiaso and Diego Cavanagh each scored one goal from the field to give Valiente a slim lead at halftime (6-5). From that point on Valiente never looked back, stretching their lead with each chukker.
Throw-ins began to have a big impact on the game for both teams in the second half. Orchard Hill was winning more throw-ins, but when Valiente did win, Cambiaso capitalized on it. He would instantly appear from the back of the lineup and turn the play into a scoring opportunity. That consistently thwarted Orchard Hill’s attempts to maintain momentum.
Valiente stretched their lead to four goals after five chukkers behind the extremely strong play of 6-goaler Matias Torres Zavaleta. He played an outstanding game and was particularly impressive second half, when he scored all four of his total goals. The emergence of Zavaleta, who was named MVP, created an exceedingly tough challenge for Orchard Hill. Orchard Hill struggled to contain him, a nearly impossible task considering that they also had to counter Cambiaso and Cavanagh.
Orchard Hill got back within 2 goals late in the game, scoring 5 of their last 6 goals on penalty shots. However, Valiente was too strong in open play, scoring 12 of their 14 goals from the field. Valiente shot an impressive 12 of 15 (80%) from the field, while Orchard Hill shot 5 of 7 (71%) for a combined 5 missed shots all game from both teams. The Pieres cousins (Facundo and Polito) made all of Orchard Hill’s 11 goals. The combined force of Cambiaso and Zavaleta, who scored 7 and 4 goals respectively (all from the field), led Valiente to the trophy.
The Best-Playing Pony award went to Sugar—who yes, was purchased from Sugar Erskine—and is owned by J5/Valiente. Sugar was played by Cambiaso.
All games in the IPC 26-goal series are being live streamed on the USPA Polo Network: uspolo.org.