2017 C.V. Whitney Cup Champions Valiente (Adolfo Cambiaso, Diego Cavanagh, Bob Jornayvaz, Matias Torres Zavaleta).
Wellington, Fla. – March 5, 2017 – Orchard Hill and Valiente both defeated Coca-Cola in the opening matches of the C.V. Whitney Cup to cement their positions in the final on Sunday, March 5, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. The last game of bracket play pitted the two finalists against each other in what would ultimately have been a practice. The high-goal teams opted to forgo the game however, denying fans a sneak peak of the showdown, in favor of a weeklong suspense leading up to the closing match.
Orchard Hill, with the highest scoring final in C.V. Whitney history, defeated Alegria two years ago 16-13. Last year, they bested Audi 11-9 to take home the coveted trophy. Thus, two-time defending champions, Orchard Hill entered the field with two of the world’s top 10-goal players – Facundo and Polito Pieres. Rival Valiente was led by 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso, one of the most recognized and talented polo players in the world.
Matias Torres Zavaleta
Shortly after the first throw in, the whistle sounded in front of the Orchard Hill goal. Orchard Hill was awarded a penalty one, capturing the first goal of the game. Facundo Pieres followed with two more goals to Cambiaso’s one to capture an early lead 3-1 in the first chukker. Polito Pieres kept up the Orchard Hill momentum and scored his first of the game at the beginning of the second. Trailing by three, Valiente came alive scoring three consecutive goals. The last equalizing goal off an impressive power play between Matias Torres Zavaleta who made a short back to Cambiaso who scored. Orchard Hill immediately retaliated with another goal from Polito Pieres recapturing the lead 5-4. Valiente dominated the third chukker adding two more goals to the board to take the lead for the first time 6-5.
Both teams scored in the fourth, Torres Zavaleta from the field and Facundo Pieres from the penalty line, to maintain the gap 7-6 in favor of Valiente. Torres Zavaleta struck again in the fifth with an excellent steal from Vercellino and neckshot to goal. Torres Zavaleta continued to show exceptional skill scoring two more field goals for Valiente. A penalty conversion from Diego Cavanagh and a goal from Cambiaso dwarfed the two penalty conversions from Orchard Hill. “Well in the 20-goal, I took them [penalty shots], and could not hit the ball, and Diego was hitting the ball better than me, so I said you hit it. We both practice together and whoever hits them better takes the shot,” said Adolfo Cambiaso. Valiente was well positioned entering the sixth chukker with a shocking four-goal spread 12-8.
An unrelenting Cambiaso scored instantly out of the lineup to cushion Valiente’s lead to a staggering five goals 13-8. The Pieres duo would put Orchard Hill back in the game. Facundo scored first on a penalty conversion followed by a field goal by Polito. Trailing by three, Orchard Hill received a penalty 4 and the pressure was on if Orchard Hill wanted to remain within reach. Facundo Pieres mishit low to the ground and to the left, but the ball hit a Valiente player’s mallet and Orchard Hill was awarded a penalty 6 safety. Once again, Facundo Pieres found himself in a pivotal position. His second shot rocketed through the air and high, slapping the waving left goal flag on its way down. Controversy ensued as the umpires reviewed video to determine whether the goal was in or out. Ultimately it was determined to be a no goal, as a ball must be one-hundred percent inside the posts to count. Shortly after, Orchard Hill received another penalty two and Facundo Pieres hit the mark to bring them within two 13-11. The clock winding down, Orchard Hill struggled to maintain possession and a final goal from Cambiaso before the 30 second horn sealed the victory for Valiente. With a final score 14-11 Valiente garnered their third C.V. Whitney Cup title.
Matias Torres Zavaleta received Most Valuable Player for his extraordinary play throughout the game. Sugar played by Cambiaso and owned by Valiente was honored as Best Playing Pony. “I bought her from Sugar Erskine, a great friend of ours,” said Cambiaso, “She went to Argentina, played a couple of [Argentine] Opens and came back to the states this year.”
Best Playing Pony, “Sugar” ridden by Cambiaso and owned by Valiente.
MVP Matias Torres Zavaleta, George DuPont presenting.
All photos by David Lominska/International Polo Club.