Dubai wins 2016 USPA Gold Cup
By Alex Webbe
In a game that wasn’t decided until the last seconds of play, Dubai (Rashid Albwardy, Alejo Taranco, Facundo Sola and Adolfo Cambiaso) scored the final goal of the game to salvage a 12-11 win over the defending championship Audi polo team (Marc Ganzi, Rodrigo Andrade, Gonzalito Pieres and Freddie Mannix) Sunday afternoon at the International Polo Club.
Facundo Sola scored the first goal of the game in the opening fifteen seconds of play for the 1-0 Dubai lead. Adolfo Cambiaso made it 2-0 at the 4:10 mark when the Audi team rallied. Gonzalito Pieres converted a 30-yard penalty shot for Audi’s first goal of the game, 2-1, with 3:25 left in the chukker, and added a tying goal, 2-2, from the field less than a minute later. A 60-yard penalty conversion from Pieres ended the scoring in the chukker and had Audi in front, 3-2.
The pace of the game was quick and the stickwork skilled as some of the game’s top ponies raced up and down the field. Cambiaso tied the game at 3-3 with a goal from the field a minute-and-a-half into the second period. Sola converted a 30-yard penalty shot a minute later that had Dubai on top of a 4-3 score. Cambiaso’s third goal of the game stretched the Dubai lead to two goals, 5-3. Audi scored the final goal of the chukker on a penalty shot from Pieres that had Dubai holding on to a one goal lead, 5-4.
Brazilian 9-goaler Rodrigo Andrade opened the scoring in the third chukker with a tying goal from the field, 5-5. Pieres scored for the fifth time on the day just forty seconds later, giving Audi the 6-5 lead. Sola countered with a goal for Dubai for the third goal in a two-minute span that had it all even at 6-6. Pieres and Sola traded penalty goals in the final minutes of the first half to deadlock the game at 7-7.
Dubai broke the game open in the fourth period with consecutive goals from Cambiaso, Sola (40-yard penalty conversion) and Alejo Taranco for a three goal, 10-7 lead. Andrade cut the Dubai lead back to two goals, 10-8, scoring Audi’s only goal of the chukker with just 40 seconds on the clock.
The Audi defense took control in the fifth period, shutting down Cambiaso and the Dubai attack. Pieres scored once from the field and once on a 60-yard penalty shot that tied the game at 10-10, with one chukker remaining in regulation play.
Cambiaso converted a 30-yard penalty shot in the opening minute of the sixth chukker for an 11-10 Dubai lead. Three minutes later Freddie Mannix tied the game at 11-11 with a goal from the field. Sola scored the final goal of the game with 2:57 on the game clock and Dubai was able to hold on until the final horn sounded in the 12-11 Dubai Gold Cup title win.
Sola led the Dubai attack with six goals (four on penalty conversions) and earned MVP honors for his efforts. Cambiaso scored four of his five goals on the day from the field and Taranco scored once for the win. Pieres scored half of his game-high eight goals on penalty shots. Andrade added two goals and Mannix scored once in the loss.
Flo, a seven-year-old Dark Bay English Thoroughbred mare was named Best Playing Pony. Owned by Valiente and played by Cambiaso, it was the mare’s first season in Florida.
White Birch takes home the Tesoro Cup
White Birch (Mariano Obregon, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Peter Brant) won the Tesoro Cup, the subsidiary of the USPA Open Championship earlier Sunday with a 13-9 win over Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, Santiago Chavanne and Tomas Garcia del Rio) on the grounds of the Valiente Polo Club.
The 24-goal Valiente team received two goals by handicap but White Birch 7-goaler Mariano Obregon scored the first goal of the game from the field to trail, 2-1. Valiente’s Tomas Garcia del Rio converted a 30-yard penalty shot to make it 3-1. A 30-yard penalty conversion from Hilario Ulloa ended the first chukker with Valiente leading, 3-2.
Both teams struggled to find a successful attack in the second period. Ulloa took advantage of a couple of Valiente fouls to convert penalty shots from the 30 and 40-yard marks. Valiente was unable to get on the scoreboard and trailed 4-3 at the end of the second period.
White Birch added a pair of goals in the third with Mariano Aguerre scoring the first goal of the chukker with just 2:29 on the clock, 5-3. Ulloa’s third goal of the day stretched the White Birch lead to three goals, 6-3. With 40 seconds on the clock, Garcia del Rio connected on a 30-yard penalty shot for a goal that gave White Birch the halftime lead, 6-4.
All three fourth chukker goals came on penalty conversions with Garcia del Rio scoring twice for Audi and Ulloa adding a penalty goal for White Birch. After four periods of play White Birch continued to hold the lead, 7-6.
Garcia del Rio tied the game at 7-7 on a 40-ayrd penalty shot for a goal in the fifth, but White Birch stormed back. Ulloa scored his first goal of the chukker from the field followed by a goal from the field that had White Birch on top, 9-7. A final goal from Obregon came with just 38 seconds on the clock and White Birch rode off the field on the winning end of a 10-7 game.
Valiente struggled to get back into the game in the sixth period, but there was little give from the Audi defense. A penalty goal from Ulloa and a goal from Aguirre (that he scored as he raced from one end of the field with opposing players in hot pursuit). Aguerre had White Birch on top, 12-7.
Garcia del Rio added a goal on a penalty shot to make it 8-12. Ulloa and Garcia del Rio scored the final two chukkers of play in the 13-9 win.