Valiente Wins Valiente Loses Piaget GOLD
Story By Alex Webbe, Photography by Lauren Lieberman LILA Photos for Piaget.
Robert Jornayvaz and his Valiente II teammates took revenge on their loss in the C. V. Whitney Cup finals earlier this month by scoring an 11-9 win over his father’s Valiente I foursome in the finals of the 2012 USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club in Wellington. The second leg of America’s Triple Crown of Polo came with quite a scare, however. After scoring six goals and leading his Valiente II team to a 10-8 lead over Valiente I, Adolfo Cambiaso was struck in the hand with the hard plastic ball and forced to leave the game. Juan Martin Nero, Cambiaso’s Argentine Open Championship teammate, took his place for the remainder of the contest in the 11-9 Valiente II victory.
Preliminary reports are positive with no broken bones, and Cambiaso is expected to be back in the lineup for the next game.
Cambiaso scored all four of Valiente II’s first chukker goals (two on penalty shots) while limiting Valiente I to single goals from Polito Pieres and Miguel Astrada. At the end of the first chukker of play, Valiente II led, 4-2.
A goal from 10-goaler Pelon Stirling had Valiente ahead 5-2 until the last minute of the second chukker. A penalty conversion by Nacho Astrada was quickly followed up by Polito Pieres who scored a beautifully executed goal from the throw-in, on a 150 yard run as time expired. Valiente I had cut the lead to a single goal, 5-4.
The first five minutes of the third period were a defensive struggle. Hard riding and violent ride-offs set the tone until a Valiente I foul sent Cambiaso to the penalty line where he converted a 60-yard penalty shot for a goal, 6-4. Just one minute later, Miguel Astrada responded with a goal from the field for Valiente I, 6-5. A final run down the field by Stirling resulted in a goal that ended the first half with Valiente II leading, 7-5.
Valiente II got into penalty trouble in the fourth chukker with Nacho Astrada scoring on two consecutive penalty shots to tie it up at 7-7. Alejo Taranco scored his first goal of the game to put Valiente II back on top, 8-7, a lead they held for just under two minutes. Nacho Astrada scored his first goal from the field to knot it up at 8-8. A final penalty goal from Taranco ended the period with Valiente II holding a narrow 9-8 edge over Valiente I.
Defense was at a premium in the fifth chukker with neither team being able to break through to the opponent’s goal. A Valiente I penalty finally sent
Cambiaso to the penalty line about four-and-a-half minutes into the period, where he converted the shot for a goal, 10-8. Three minutes later while leading an attack on the Valiente I goal, Cambiaso was hit in the mallet hand with the ball, sliding from his horse and wincing in pain. A time out was called and medics quickly arrived at his side. After about ten minutes it was thought he would continue, but a brief warm-up on the field convinced him that he had better sit down. Ten-goaler Juan Martin Nero was called in to replace Cambiaso and the game continued. After riding out the final 90 seconds of the chukker, Valiente II left the field with a two goal, 10-8 advantage.
The pace continued to pick up in the final chukker with Valiente I trying to take advantage of the new Valiente II lineup, but the pace that Cambiaso had set earlier in the match continued. Nero was a teammate of both Cambiaso’s and Stirling’s last fall as they played together on the Argentine Open championship La Dolfina team together, and Stirling and Nero looked quite comfortable together on the field again. Stirling scored the first goal of the chukker on a very difficult cut shot at the north end of the field, 11-8. Valiente I struggled to fight their way back into the game. Pieres finally managed to make his way through the Valiente II defense for the final goal of the match with two minutes left to play. Valiente II controlled the ball for much of the final minutes of play before celebrating the 11-9 win.
Stirling was named MVP and had his 11-year-old gray Chilean Thoroughbred, Capilla, was honored at Best Playing Pony.
Cambiaso led all scoring with six goals (four on penalty shots). Stirling scored three times for Valiente II and teammate Taranco added two goals in the victory.
Nacho Astrada scored four times for Valiente I (three on penalties). Pieres added three goals in the match with Miguel Astrada accounting for two goals.
“It was a great game,” offered Bob Jornayvaz of his 11-9 loss to his son’s Valiente II team. “He (son Robert) played well we were in it all the way.”
“We had our chances,’ said Pieres. “I never felt like we were out of the game, but we missed some scoring opportunities.”
The injured Cambiaso appeared for the trophy ceremony with a noticeable welt on the back of his right hand.
Cambiaso will have a little time for the hand to heal with Valiente II not returning to action on Sunday, April 1 when they play their opening game of the 2012 Nespresso US Open tournament against Coca-Cola.