Coca-Cola stuns Valiente in 10-7 Piaget Gold cup win
By Alex Webbe
Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Sebastian Merlos, Julio Arellano and Facundo Obregon) scored a stunning 10-7 upset of the favored Valiente team (Bob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, Sapo Caset and Adolfo Cambiaso) Sunday afternoon as action continues in the 2014 USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club.
Valiente entered the match, on the heels of their convincing win over Orchard Hill in the final of the 26-goal C. V. Whitney Cup just a week ago, and looked to make short work of a Coca-Cola team that was eliminated in the first round of the Whitney Cup.
Coca-Cola scored the first two goals of the game with Facundo Obregon converting a 40-yard penalty shot, 1-0, followed by a goal from the field from team captain Gillian Johnston on a well-executed 100 yard run for a score, 2-0. Valiente 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso got his team on the scoreboard with 21 seconds on the clock, cutting the Coca-Cola lead to a single goal, 2-1.
Both defenses stepped it up in the second frame, but the edge went to Valiente. Fouls cost the Coca-Cola team as Caset converted a pair of penalty shots, giving Valiente a 3-2 edge while Coca-Cola was unable to break through the Valiente defense.
American 9-goaler Julio Arellano tied it up midway through the third chukker, 3-3, but Cambiaso answered right back for Valiente for a 4-3 advantage. Obregon missed on a 60-yard penalty shot that was deflected over the end line and then scored on the ensuing Safety to make it 4-4. Sebastian Merlos gave the lead to Coca-Cola on a backhander following a penalty attempt, 5-4, but a great individual effort by Cambiaso had it all even at 5-5 with eight seconds on the clock.
Cambiaso intercepted a backhand shot by Johnston near the Coca-Cola goal and raced past Merlos for the go-ahead score, 6-5. A late foul sent Obregon to the penalty line where he converted a short penalty shot to knot it u once again at 6-6.
Coca-Cola broke it open in the fifth with three unanswered goals for the 9-6 lead. Arellano scored the first goal of the chukker in the opening 20 seconds. Johnston scored the first of two fifth chukker goals at the 6:22 mark, following it up with another goal from the field at 3:54. Valiente had a number of opportunities that they squandered, falling behind 9-6 with one chukker left to play.
Johnston scored her fourth goal of the match to make it 10-6 as Valiente struggled to coordinate an effective attack. Caset scored the final goal of the game at the 2:51 mark and Coca-Cola held on for the 10-7 win.
Johnston led the Coca-Cola offense with four goals and was named MVP for her efforts. Obregon scored three goals on penalty shots; Arellano added two goals from the field and Merlos scored once for the win. Cambiaso set the pace for Valiente with four goals. Caset was credited with three goals in the loss.
LECHUZA CARACAS 10, CRAB ORCHARD 9 OT
Earlier in the day Nico Pieres stole the limelight from his brother, 10-goaler Facundo Pieres), scoring a game high seven goals, including the overtime winner, in a 10-9 Lechuza Caracas (Victor Vargas, Nico Pieres, Juan Martin Nero and Nico Espain) victory over Crab Orchard (George Rawlings, Facundo Pieres, Magoo Laprida and Matias Magrini).
Magoo Laprida opened the scoring for Crab Orchard, 1-0, but Nico Pieres leveled it at 1-1 just moments alter. Facundo Pieres converted a 40-yard penalty shot to close out the chukker with Crab Orchard on top of a 2-1 score.
A 60-yard penalty conversion by Facundo Pieres gave Crab Orchard a 3-1 advantage in second period play. A goal from the field from Matias Magrini ended the chukker with Crab Orchard riding off the field with the 4-1 lead.
Nico Espain and Facundo Pieres traded goals to open the third, but gals from Nico Pieres and Juan Martin Nero had Lechuza Caracas within a goal of the lead, 5-4, as the first half ended.
The fourth chukker was all Lechuza Caracas. Nico Pieres opened the scoring with a 60-yard penalty conversion for a goal followed by a goal from the field. The Lechuza Caracas shut down the Crab Orchard attack and took the lead for the first time all day, 6-5.
Facundo Pieres leveled the score at 6-6 with a penalty conversion at the start of the fifth followed by a goal from the field, 7-6. Laprida’s second goal of the game had Crab Orchard in front, 8-6. Facundo Pieres converted a 30-yard penalty shot for the final goal of the chukker, 9-6.
A determined Lechuza Caracas team took the field in the sixth. Nico Pieres scored the first goal of the chukker from the field, 9-7, and then converted a 60-yard penalty shot for a goal, 9-8. Espain kept the Lechuza Caracas hopes alive with a tying goal, 9-9, to end regulation time all even and forcing sudden-death overtime.
Both teams struggled for early control of the ball in the overtime period with Nico Pieres getting the opening he needed to score the winning goal.
Nico Pieres was credited with seven goals on the day (two on penalty shots). Espain added two goals and Nero scored once. Facundo Pieres scored four of his team-high six goals on penalty shots. Laprida contributed two goals and Magrini accounted for a goal in the loss.
USPA Piaget gold Cup competition will continue on Wednesday, March 12 with a 1pm match between Valiente (0-1) and Crab Orchard (0-1) followed by a 3pm contest featuring Coca-Cola (1-0) and Lechuza Caracas (1-0).