The highly anticipated conclusion to the Gauntlet of Polo and U.S. Open Polo Championship at the International Polo Club Palm Beach did not disappoint in a hard-fought final that came down to the final chukker between Scone and Park Place.
Under sunny skies on the Home of the U.S. Polo Assn – Field 1, it was Scone’s father-son duo of Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso, along with Peke Gonzalez and David Paradice that emerged victorious, raising the prestigious CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship trophy and capturing the $200,000 prize with the 14-13 victory. Although this is his ninth title, it may be one of the most memorable for Adolfo Cambiaso, winning alongside his son Poroto for the first time, who ties Nic Roldan for the youngest ever winner of the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship at just 15 years old.
Each capturing one leg in the Gauntlet of Polo, the deciding tournament resulted in Scone rising to the top of the field by relying on their trio once again as Adolfo Cambiaso, Poroto Cambiaso and Gonzalez all finished with at least four goals in the victory. After a quick start, Park Place’s offense was stagnant in the middle of the game until coming alive in the final chukker, but they were not able to capture the heroics of their semifinal victory despite the impressive 10-goal performance from Hilario Ulloa. Producing efficient offenses and an elite level of play that would be expected in a CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship final, Scone built their lead in the third and fourth chukkers to withstand the late charge from Park Place and hold on for the thrilling one-goal victory.
Asserting their strategy in the early moments, Park Place took the early lead on a cut-shot goal from Matt Coppola two minutes into the game. Continuing to apply the pressure, Park Place quickly doubled their lead on a Penalty 2 conversion for Ulloa as Scone was forced to battle from behind. Receiving a foul, Adolfo Cambiaso calmed the Scone team and converted a penalty of his own to settle in and begin the hard-fought battle between the two evenly matched teams. Coppola’s second goal kept Park Place ahead by one at the end of the first chukker, but Scone reorganized for the remainder of the opening half. Rotating effectively, it was Poroto Cambiaso that effectively used the pass, assisting on back-to-back goals to give Scone their first lead of the day at 4-3.
An impressive goal from Park Place’s Andrey Borodin saw him jump on the line ahead of Adolfo Cambiaso and run to goal to finish under pressure and bring the game even at 4-all in what was setting up to be an exciting final. Scone came racing out of the tent in the third chukker, converting a Penalty 2 and then receiving consecutive goals from Poroto Cambiaso, who transitioned from the passing role to scoring at the front of the game to give Scone the 7-5 advantage at halftime.
Carrying over a foul from the end of the third chukker, Peke Gonzalez stepped up and converted a Penalty 2, opening play in the second half as Park Place tried to fight their way back into the game. Adolfo Cambiaso effectively played the back position, stifling Park Place’s offense while allowing Peke Gonzalez and son Poroto to attack forward and the duo added a field goal each to extend Scone’s lead to four. In desperate need of offense, Park Place turned to their 10-goaler Ulloa, who helped his team slowly chip away at the lead with two goals in the fifth chukker. Park Place found themselves in a similar position in their semifinal match-up against La Indiana, trying to recapture the magic of a sixth chukker comeback and threw everything they could at Scone in the final minutes. Ulloa’s fifth penalty conversion cut the deficit to two, but Scone looked to seal the game after receiving two penalty conversions for Gonzalez, pushing the score to 14-9 with under four minutes remaining.
However, the persistent Park Place team never gave in, providing one final push that sent the game into the final seconds. Ulloa ran onto a Penalty 5 at full speed and won a ride-off with Poroto to provide a quick goal and it was seconds later when he received a foul that was converted, bringing the difference to three. With time ticking down, Ulloa continued to run to goal, scoring his tenth and final goal as time expired but it left Park Place one goal short as Scone celebrated the 14-13 victory and the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship title.
The Seymour Knox MVP was awarded to Adolfo Cambiaso, scoring four goals and adding four assists in the victory. A series of Best Playing Pony honors were given to Cambiaso’s string, beginning with the Willis L. Hartman Best Playing Pony award to Cambiaso’s Greta Libelula.
Best Playing Pony of the US Open, Gauntlet of Polo, and IPC Horse of the Year was given to Cambiaso’s Lovelocks Camusericht. Lastly, the Cria Polo Argentino Best Playing Pony of the US Open was awarded to Dolfina Maria.
For his exceptional play throughout the Gauntlet of Polo, scoring 15 goals, Michael Bickford won the Amateur Most Valuable Player award.