By Alex Webbe
You wouldn’t have thought that it was a game of little consequence, with both Zacara (Facundo Pieres, Lyndon Lea, Gonzalo Deltour and Matt Perry) and Dubai (Tommy Beresford, Alastair Paterson, Adolfo Cambiaso and Diego Cavanagh) assured of berths in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open, but with the two top ranked players in the world facing one another and Zacara’s 22-game winning streak on the line, anything was possible.
After watching Zacara sweep through the Queens Cup and their first three games of the British Open, a now healthy Adolfo Cambiaso was positioned to remind everyone why he is the number one ranked player in the game today.
Following Diego Cavanagh’s opening penalty conversion Cambiaso added two goals from the field while a determined Dubai defense held the high-scoring Zacara offense scoreless after the opening chukker of play, as Dubai held a 3-0 advantage over the defending champions.
Dubai continued to knock the Zacara defense around in the second period, with Cavanagh adding two more penalty conversions and Cambiaso scoring his third goal of the day for a comfortable 6-2 lead. Zacara was held to just two goals from Pieres in an uncharacteristically weak offensive showing.
A healthy following of spectators continued to wait for Zacara to show some life, but it wouldn’t be coming in the third chukker. Dubai shutout the Zacara attack for the second time in the opening three chukkers while adding two more penalty goals (Cavanagh) of their own. At the end of the first half it was Dubai running all over Zacara, 8-2.
Zacara showed some life in the fourth chukker as Pieres scored three times, cutting the Dubai lead to four goals, 9-5. Cavanagh scored the lone penalty goal for Dubai who continued to control the flow of the game.
Cambiaso opened the scoring in the fifth when he jumped all over Pieres who was bringing the ball into play on a penalty hit. Deep in his own territory, Pieres miscued the ball and Cambiaso was quick to pounce on the ball and carry it through the Zacara goal, 10-5. Pieres cut the lead back to four goals, scoring on a pass from teammate Gonzalo Del Tour and added another goal on a 40-yard penalty conversion. A pair of penalty goals from Cavanagh, however, offset his efforts and the Dubai lead expanded to five goals, 12-7, with one chukker left to play.
Cavanagh scored his first goal from the field to open the sixth period as the Dubai lead stretched to six goals, 13-7. Pieres converted a 40-yard penalty shot for Zacara, but the fire wasn’t there. Cambiaso put an exclamation mark on the game by driving a long shot through the middle of the Zacara goalposts for the 14-8 final.
Cavanagh ended the day with a game high nine goals. Pieres scored all eight of Zacara’s goals in the loss.
The 22-game Zacara winning streak was over, giving Lyndon Lea’s team four or five days to reflect on their efforts as they prepare for the coming weekend’s quarterfinals.
British Open play will continue on Tuesday with the Black Bears (Guy Schwarzenbach, Facundo Sola, John Paul Clarkin and Patrick O’Dwyer) facing El Rosario (Alejandro Penafiel, Salvador Ulloa, Francisco Elizalde and Rob Archibald) in a 12:30pm game followed by a showdown between King Power (“Top” Srivaddhanaprabha, Pablo Llorente, Gonzalito Pieres and Marcos di Paola) and HB Polo (Ludovic Pailloncy, Ignacio Toccalino, Pite Merlos and Sebastien Pailloncy).