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ATTACHED PHOTOS

Mariano Obregon and Julian de Lusarreta

Facundo Sola and Freddie Mannix

Facundo Sola and Gonzalito Pieres

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Dubai and Orchard Hill Advance to U.S. Open Final

Written by: Darlene Ricker & Jamie Saults
Client: United States Polo Association http://www.uspolo.org
Release Date: 2016-04-21

Dubai and Orchard Hill advance to the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final after winning their semifinal matches April 20 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC). Orchard Hill defeated White Birch 9-8 in overtime, and Dubai defeated Audi 13-11.

Orchard Hill Defeats White Birch 9-8 in OT Thriller

Orchard Hill played their way into the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final for the second consecutive year, taking White Birch 9-8 after four grueling minutes of overtime play. The game was a seven chukker roller coaster ride, with Orchard Hill owning the first half and White Birch springing from a four-goal deficit to tie the game at 6 in the fourth chukker. From that point on it was anyone’s game until Facundo Pieres seized the win for Orchard Hill on a penalty 2 in overtime.

At the start, Hilario Ulloa wasted no time claiming the turf for White Birch with two consecutive goals in the first two minutes of play. Orchard Hill promptly seized control when Juan Martin Nero crushed the ball 95 yards, putting Orchard Hill on the board. With 0:25 left in the first chukker, Pieres tied the game at 2. In the second chukker, Orchard Hill made four consecutive goals while keeping White Birch scoreless. Orchard Hill sat with a comfortable 6-2 lead at the end of the first half.

White Birch turned the second half into an entirely different game. Ulloa scored the only goals in the third and fourth chukkers. He propelled White Birch from a four goal deficit, scoring three from the penalty line and one from the field, to tie the game at 6. In the fifth chukker, Mariano Aguerre contributed to the scoreboard for White Birch and sent them to a short-lived lead. A minute later, Pieres scored on a penalty 2 to retie the game. Close to six excruciating minutes passed in the sixth chukker before Ulloa broke the tie, scoring his seventh goal to bring the score to 8-7 for White Birch. Julian Lusarreta came through with a stunning pass to Pieres, who sent it through the posts with just seconds left in regulation play to push the game into overtime.

The seventh chukker was marked by lightning-fast runs and missed attempts, keeping the overflow crowd on the edge of their seats. A blocking foul was called on White Birch and a yellow card was issued to Ulloa, resulting in a penalty 2 in favor of Orchard Hill. Pieres eased the ball through the posts to end the game at 9-8.

“We were playing really well in the first half, and the second half we were sleeping,” said Pieres. “We were beating them in every part of the field. Then in the second half we were a different team and they were too. We were pretty close to losing, but we were a bit lucky the last two minutes when we tied the game.”

Calling it a “tough game,” Orchard Hill’s Steve Van Andel said, “White Birch has been around for a long time, and they are always good. It was anybody’s game until the end. Our plan was to just be patient and wait for chances, and we did.”

Dubai Defeats Audi 13-11

Opponents Adolfo Cambiaso and Gonzalo Pieres came out on fire, each scoring five times in the first half. Cambiaso as always, was incredibly well mounted and won the Best String award. He started the game on Boeing, one of his favorite mounts, who he usually saves for later.

Leading 7-5, Dubai started the second half like a runaway train, making six goals total in the fourth and fifth chukkers. Cambiaso made the last goal of the fifth from 70 yards out with 0:26 on the clock, giving Dubai a six-goal lead (13-7). Dubai seemed unstoppable, but then Audi suddenly came alive, pouring it on in the sixth to turn it into an entirely different game. Dubai went cold while Rodrigo Andrade made two field goals and Pieres scored twice on penalty 2 shots to shorten Audi’s deficit to two (13-11).

Cambiaso and Pieres had sustained scoring sprees throughout the game, making nine and eight goals respectively. Each scored five times from the penalty line, with Cambiaso 100 percent and Pieres, 71. Dubai’s Rashid Albwardy, who has played an incredibly strong season, contributed Dubai’s other four goals, all from the field. Albwardy was crucial to Dubai’s fourth-chukker sprint into a five-goal advantage while his team kept Audi scoreless. Although Audi got back into the game in a big way for the entire final chukker, time ran out before they could capitalize on their eleventh-hour momentum.

“We made mistakes in the last chukker, but I think the lead we already had, made the difference,” said Dubai’s Alejo Taranco. Cambiaso said he was thrilled with the outcome of the game and Dubai’s dominance in its first season in the United States.

The games were lived streamed by ChukkerTV.com, a partner of the USPA Polo Network. Continuous live coverage of the 112th U.S. Open Polo Championship® wraps up Sunday, April 24, when Dubai faces Orchard Hill in the final at 3pm ET at IPC.

 

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