Ever since Adolfo Cambiaso started cloning his best horses, the running joke has been that he should clone himself. If you were at the 20-goal Colorado Open yesterday, you’d have sworn it had happened—or that you were seeing double. In replica form of his father, young Poroto Cambiaso played only his second high-goal match, playing for Valiente in place of patron Bob Jornayvaz, out with a back injury.
“It was amazing that Bob gave Poroto the opportunity to play at least once in the high-goal with me here in Denver,” said Cambiaso. His opinion of his son’s performance? “He had a good game. He played really smart. He’s only 11, and he’s going to get better and better all the time.”
Cambiaso said playing together at Valiente’s home base in Littleton, just outside Denver, made them both feel comfortable. “It feels like home,” he said, adding that Jornayvaz is “one of the biggest supporters of Poroto. I’m happy, it was fun, and everything is going the way we like.”
Poroto told his dad that he was happy and can’t wait to play with him again. “I’ll have him play with me in Argentina,” said Cambiaso, who played on Palermo field 1 with his 14-year-old daughter, Mia.
Friday’s game saw both teams off and running from the start. Agustín Nero showed off his penalty prowess as he knocked a penalty 2 through the posts despite some squirrely moves from his mount as he cantered up to the penalty line. Hawaii Polo Life’s Juan Martín Obregon attempted to answer with a penalty shot of his own, but Cambiaso picked the ball at the last second. Even so, Tommy Collingwood was able to confidently put a goal on the board from the 30 yard line later in the chukker to tie the score 1-1.
Poroto Cambiaso showed off trademark Cambiaso speed and agility out of the throw-in at the beginning of the second chukker as he took off on a run. After a brief possession by Hawaii Polo Life, Kian Hall smacked an open backhand to the elder Cambiaso, whose unerring neck shot made the score 2-1. Nacho Badiola took the ball out of the throw-in but left it behind, where it was picked up by Nero for an angled pass to Poroto. Adolfo took the man, giving Poroto room to turn before Collingwood backed the ball. After more play, Adolfo made another nifty neck shot that left the score 3-1 at the end of the second chukker.
Cambiaso continued his hot streak, crushing penalty after penalty to put Valiente ahead 6-1. Poroto took over his father’s frequent role as sweeper, showing impressive skill and grit as he went head to head experienced pros. Obregon began to turn the tide of the game by nailing a 30-yard penalty, ending the half 6-2 for Valiente.
Hawaii Polo Life made key adjustments as they came out in the second half. A neck shot by Badiola conceded by Valiente made the score 6-3, but an incredibly accurate pass by Hall to Nero on the run pulled them ahead 7-3. Collingwood put in a coast-to-coast, albeit interrupted, run for a goal, and a safety 60 from Obregon leveled the playing field and brought Hawaii Polo Life within two.
The fifth chukker began with another penalty goal by Obregon. A rare wide penalty shot by Cambiaso gave Valiente pause, but a team goal with passes from Nero and him to Hall ended the chukker 8-6. Hawaii Polo Life came out in the sixth ready to leave it all on the field. A tail shot by Badiola to Nano Gracida put their seventh goal on the board, and a huge shot by Collingwood tied the game 8-8. Two wide shots by Nero, one from the field and one from the penalty line, sent the game into overtime.
The seventh chukker started out looking to be the shortest of the day with Gracida immediately heading to goal, but a wide shot extended the game. Valiente showed off their passing game, with Cambiaso hitting a long ball to Poroto, who sent it to Nero. A whistle interrupted play, and Cambiaso made another rare error with a wide penalty shot to the right, but he immediately rectified the situation as Hawaii Polo Life tried to end the game from the penalty line. Cambiaso’s quick pick and run to goal meant it was all over in a blink as Valiente triumphed 9-8.
GAME ANALYSIS AND INSIGHTS
This was a really interesting game because basically it was a game of two halves. Valiente was 6-2 up at halftime, but it could have been a far wider spread. They missed a lot of chances, especially early on. Hawaii Polo Life hit their knock-ins too straight, allowing Cambiaso to sweep in and dictate play. Poroto Cambiaso had an amazing first half and was quite often the deepest player for Valiente. Kian Hall worked so hard that there was plenty of space for his teammates.
In the second half Hawaii Polo Life really changed things up. Collingwood began to push through a bit more, and the team clearly began to care a bit more about angles than distance when they were hitting the ball. The plays that didn’t work happened when they just hit the ball far too long. The plays that worked best of all for them weren’t even their own set plays. It was when play got scrappy in the middle. They would hit a little flick backhand at an angle so their own players could run onto it. They managed to draw Cambiaso in a lot more in the second half, which was the key to their success in tying the score.
The Colorado Open continues Sunday with two games: Kentucky v. Hawaii at 10 a.m., and Colorado v. Valiente at 1 p.m. Both games will be at Valiente Polo Farm. Daily game hotline: (310) 210-4004.
The Colorado Open final will feature the 2017 Rocky Mountain Polo Festival hosted by Polo Fest and Polo Channel.
Daily game hotline: (310) 210-4004.
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Photos © Polo Channel
Story by John Kent and Alannah Castro