Halcyon Gallery Upsets Zacara for semifinal berth against Dubai
Halcyon Gallery (George Hanbury, Mark Tomlinson, James Beim and James Harper) pulled the upset of the season Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open by defeating the defending championship Zacara team (Facundo Pieres, Lyndon Lea, Gonzalo Deltour and Matt Perry) in a 10-9 shocker.
The Halcyon Gallery polo team was comprised of four English professionals who knew they had their work cut out for them as they faced a powerful Zacara team that had won 22 of their last 23 games over the course of the last two years. Zacara had won the 2014 Cartier Queens Cup was the odds-on favorite to return to the final of the British Open to defend their 2013 title.
An aggressive Halcyon Gallery team jumped all over Zacara from the opening throw in with James Beim racing down the field to score the first goal of the game, 1-0. A Zacara foul sent Beim to the penalty line moments later where he converted a 60-yard penalty shot for a 2-0 advantage. Ten-goaler Facundo Pieres perked up the spirits of the Zacara faithful when he took control of the ball deep in his own end of the field and raced over 250 yards down the field to score the team’s only goal of the opening chukker to trail, 2-1.
Zacara’s powerful offense was snuffed out again in the second chukker as Halcyon Gallery picked up goals from George Hanbury and Beim. At the end of the second chukker Halcyon Gallery rode off the field with a 4-1 edge.
Zacara had fallen behind before in British Open play, coming from behind to take the lead and the game from UAE Polo in the final chukker of an 8-7 win. Zacara lost their first game in the last two years to Dubai, 14-7, less than a week ago, but this was the quarterfinals, and they were Zacara—one of the most dominating teams in English polo. They’d be focused and ready, or so their followers thought.
The Zacara defense finally tamed the Halcyon Gallery attack in the third chukker while their attack got back on track. Goals from Pieres (penalty conversion) and Matt Perry were complimented by shutout defense as the first half ended with Halcyon Gallery defending a fragile 4-3 advantage.
The old, familiar Zacara team showed up in the fourth chukker as Pieres tied the game, 4-4, on a penalty goal and added another goal for their first lead of the game, 5-4. Mark Tomlinson tied it up for Halcyon Gallery, but Perry found himself on the scoring end of a pass from Pieres to end the period with Zacara on top, 6-5.
Halcyon Gallery climbed back into the game in the fifth. A 40-yard penalty goal from James Beim leveled the score at 6-6. Pieres countered with a penalty goal of his own as Zacara moved in front once again, 7-6. Perry’s third goal of the contest gave Zacara a two-goal lead as all in attendance expected the Zacara offense to start its run, but that wasn’t going to happen. A persistent Halcyon Gallery attack resulted in another Zacara foul. Beim converted the penalty shot for a goal, cutting the Zacara lead back to a manageable one goal, 8-7.
Tomlinson tied it up with the opening goal of the sixth chukker, 8-8, when Zacara answered back. A pass from Pieres to Gonzalo Del Tour to Perry resulted in a goal and a9-8 Zacara lead with time running down. A Zacara foul sent Tomlinson to the line where he converted a 30-yard shot to knot it up at 9-9. Tomlinson had a spectacular run at the Zacara goal before having the bail backed out of the goal mouth in the final moment by Pieres, but Halcyon Gallery wasn’t through. A final run by James Harper resulted in the winning goal and the spectacular upset of the almighty Zacara polo team, 10-9.
The win was Halcyon Gallery’s fourth in five games and avenged their only loss of the season (10-6 to Zacara). The victory sends Halcyon Gallery to Wednesday’s semifinals on the heels of a Cinderella win.
DUBAI11, UAE 10
Their second meeting of the tournament had little in common with Dubai’s 14-9 win a week ago as UAE Polo(Kian Hall, Lucas Monteverde, Pablo MacDonough and Ollie Cudmore) pressed Adolfo Cambiaso and company to the limit in their one goal, 11-10 loss to Dubai (Tommy Beresford, Alastair Paterson, Adolfo Cambiaso and Diego Cavanagh).
Diego Cavanagh scored the first goal of the game on a penalty conversion for Dubai, 1-0. Lucas Monteverde and Pablo Macdonough replied with a goal from the field and a penalty goal, respectively, for UAE Polo, 2-1. Adolfo Cambiaso scored the final goal of the chukker for a 2-2 tie.
MacDonough scored three goals in the second (two on penalty shots) and UAE Polo got single goals from Monteverde and Kian Hall to jump out in front by two goals, 7-5. Dubai was limited to three goals from Cavanagh (one on a penalty conversion).
The two teams battled back and forth through the ensuing chukkers always staying within a goal of one another, and ending the fifth with Dubai on top, 8-7.
Dubai began to assert themselves in the final chukker, scoring three goals and going up, 11-8 on a struggling UAE Polo quartet. MacDonough brought his team back, orchestrating two goals (his last on a penalty conversion) and cutting the lead down to a single goal, 11-10 with time running out. One last run was turned aside by the Dubai defenders as they controlled the ball until time expired.
The victory sends Dubai into Wednesday’s semifinals against Halcyon Gallery, the upset winner in the day’s opening British Open quarterfinal match.