ARGENTINE OPEN TRIPLE CROWN CHAMPIONS
By Alex Webbe
The luxury of having the finals of the 2013 Argentine Open streamed live on the internet attracted viewers and players from around the globe. The polo world watched as La Dolfina ~Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling, Pablo MacDonough and Sebastian Merlos, defeated a resilient but outgunned Alegria ~Polito Pieres, Hilario Ulloa, Lucas Monteverde and Fred Mannix challenge, 16-11.
La Dolfina went up on the scoreboard first with Adolfo Cambiaso scoring on a 30-yard penalty shot just 1:19 into the game. Polito Pieres responded for Alegria at 2:45, converting a 60-yard Safety, 1-1. Cambiaso scored the final goal of the chukker on another 30-yard penalty shot as La Dolfina rode off the field with a 2-1 advantage.
Cambiaso extended the La Dolfina lead with a pair of goals in the opening minute-and-a-half of the second period. Another penalty goal was followed by a goal from the field from the 10-goaler, and Alegria found themselves trailing, 4-1. With less than three minutes left in the chukker Pablo MacDonough scored his first goal of the game for a comfortable 5-1 La Dolfina lead. Pieres turned it on in the final minutes of the chukker, scoring twice from the field in a 30 second span. After two periods of play, La Dolfina sat on top of a 5-3 lead.
A determined Alegria quartet took the field in third chukker action and scored three consecutive goals to tie and then take the lead, 6-5. Pieres scored on a 40-yard penalty shot to open the chukker (:21), 5-4, and added two more from the field for the 6-5 edge. MacDonough scored the final goal of the period for La Dolfina to end the chukker in a 6-6 deadlock.
The two teams traded goals in the fourth with Cambiaso scoring the first goal of the chukker at the 3:15 mark for a 7-6 lead. Pieres answered back with a goal just two minutes later, 7-7. Pelon Stirling put La Dolfina back on top just a minute later, 8-7, with Pieres evening it out at 8-8 to end the first half.
Hilario Ulloa’s first goal of the day gave the lead back to Alegria, 9-8, but fouls soon got them in trouble Alegria committed five fouls in the chukker to one for La Dolfina. Cambiaso missed three penalty shots but made good on a pair of 30-yarders for a 10-9 La Dolfina lead.
Both defenses tightened up in the sixth as hard riding carried the ball up and down the field before Macdonough scored in the final seconds of the chukker, extending the La Dolfina lead to two goals, 11-9.
Cambiaso and Pieres exchanged penalty goals in the seventh, 12-10, with Stirling’s second goal of the afternoon putting La Dolfina in the lead by three goals, 13-10.
La Dolfina continued to press the attack as Alegria fought to stay in the game. Consecutive goals from MacDonough and Cambiaso penalty goal gave La Dolfina a five goal lead, 15-10. Four minutes into the chukker, Ulloa added a goal for Alegria, 15-11, but time was running out. Cambiaso scored the final goal of the game at 5:02, and two minutes later the stadium erupted in cheers for La Dolfina. With the win La Dolfina became only the fifth team in history to win Argentina’s Triple Crown of polo, having won the Tortugas Open and the Hurlingham Open earlier in the season.
Cambiaso registered a game high ten goals (seven on penalty conversions). MacDonough scored four times and Stirling added a pair for the win. Pieres scored eight of his nine goals in the first half of play, and was named MVP for his efforts. Ulloa accounted for both of Alegria’s remaining goals scored. Cambiaso’s Chocolate received Best Playing Pony honors.
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Legends Cup Ends In A Draw
Story by Alex Webbe
Photography by Alex Pacheco
It was only a four chukker exhibition match on the grounds of the Grand Champions Polo Club as a prelude to the day’s international game between the United States and Chile, but the opportunity to see some of the most storied names in polo on the field was something to behold.
Playing as Grand Champions White were two-thirds of the once-all powerful 38-goal Boehm team, a team comprised of the brother combinations of 10-goalers Carlos and Memo Gracida and 9-goalers Julian and Howard Hipwood. Filling in for the missing Memo Gracida, however, was his cousin, former 8-goaler Ruben Gracida (four-time US Open winner, the second US Open MVP in history).
Grand Champions Blue was comprised of former 9-goaler Hector Galindo, veteran Argentine and former 8-goaler Juan Bollini, former 7-goaler Joey Casey and Peter Rizzo, CEO of the United States Polo Association.
The pace was quick from the opening throw-in with Julian Hipwood scoring first for Grand Champions White at the 4:08 of the first chukker. Carlos Gracida made it 2-0, scoring a goal with under a minute on the clock for the early lead.
Grand Champions Blue got on track behind Hector Galindo in the second period. After struggling to break through the Grand Champions White defense in the early goings, Galindo got his team on the scoreboard with a goal from the field with 1:04 left to play. A foul by the white team send Galindo to the penalty line with 25 seconds to play, where he converted a 60-yard penalty shot for the 2-2 tie.
Grand Champions White got third chukker goals from Carlos Gracida and Howard Hipwood while Grand Champions Blue was held to a single penalty conversion by Galindo. The third period ended with Grand Champions White on top of a 4-3 score.
Carlos Gracida put Grand Champions White ahead by two goals in the fourth on a 60-yard penalty conversion, but Grand Champions Blue fought back. Goals from Juan Bollini and Joey Casey closed out the scoring in the classic match with a well-deserved 5-5 tie.
At the trophy presentation following the match, Howard Hipwood was honored as MVP from this group of storied players.