USA OPEN POLO CHAMPIONSHIPS
Crab Orchard Manhandles Orchard Hill
Story by Alex Webbe Photography by Alex Pacheco
Crab Orchard (Peke Gonzalez, Magoo Laprida, Facundo Pieres and Paco de Narvaez) registered the first win of the 2014 Maserati US Open Championship with a 12-9 win over Orchard Hill (Steve Van Andel, Santiago Chavanne, Pablo MacDonough and Matias MacDonough) Sunday afternoon at the International Polo Club.
Facundo Pieres scored the first goal of the game in the opening seconds of the first chukker to post Crab Orchard to a 1-0 start. Paco de Narvaez made it 2-0 just a moment later while Orchard Hill struggled to organize their defense. The final goal of the period was scored by Orchard Hill team captain Steve Van Andel. Crab Orchard left the field with the early 2-1 lead.
Over two minutes elapsed in the second chukker before a Crab Orchard foul sent Matias MacDonough to the penalty line where he converted a 30-yard shot to tie it at 2-2. With both teams battling for control of the ball, scoring was at a standstill until the final seconds of the chukker when Peke Gonzalez (filling in for the injured team captain George Rawlings) broke loose and raced down the field to score the go-ahead goal with 26 seconds on the clock. After two chukkers Crab Orchard continued to lead, 3-2.
Crab Orchard 10-goaler Facundo Pieres gave a demonstration in horsemanship and ball control in the third period. Pieres opened the third with a 60-yard penalty conversion for a goal just 16 seconds into the chukker, 4-2Less than a minute later Pieres made it 5-2 on a goal from the field. An Orchard Hill foul sent Pieres to the penalty line once again with 1:51 on the clock where he converted a 40-yard shot for a score, 6-2. In a final desperate act, Pablo MacDonough kept the Orchard Hill hopes alive by driving the ball through the goal posts with 30 seconds on the clock. At the end of the first half Crab Orchard sat on top of a 6-3 score and Orchard Hill didn’t seem to know how to stop them.
Pieres scored two more goals (one on a penalty shot) to open the second half with Crab Orchard stretching their lead to five goals, 8-3. Pablo MacDonough scored for Orchard Hill at the 2:24 mark, 8-4. Paco de Narvaez scored his second goal of the day to make it 9-4. Matias MacDonough cut into the Crab Orchard lead with a goal in the final four seconds of the chukker but Crab Orchard held a comfortable four goal advantage, 9-5.
The fifth chukker belonged to Pieres as he added three consecutive goals (two on penalty shots) to give Crab Orchard a seven goal edge, 12-5. Ten-goaler Pablo MacDonough scored the final goal of the chukker on a long run with 18 seconds left in the period. Crab Orchard continued to control the game with a six goal lead, 12-6.
Orchard Hill continued to press in the final chukker of play, but Crab Orchard was clearly not concerned. Matias MacDonough scored just a minute into the final chukker, 12-7, and teammate Santiago Chavanne added a goal at the 4:44 mark, 12-8, but time was running out and Crab Orchard continued to play keep away with the ball. Pablo MacDonough scored the final goal of the game on a pass from his brother Matias (1:28), but there was no more rally left as Crab Orchard rode out the clock for the 12-9 victory.
Pieres led all scoring with nine goals (five goals on penalty conversions). De Narvaez added two goals and Gonzalez scored once for the win. Pablo MacDonough led the Orchard Hill attack with four goals. Matias MacDonough scored three times (once on a penalty shot) and Chavanne and Van Andel each added a goal in the loss.
De Narvaez was named MVP for his efforts while Pablo MacDonough’s Venturosa was honored as Best Playing Pony.
Maserati US Open play continues on Monday, March 31 with a 3pm contest between Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, Sapo Caset and Adolfo Cambiaso) and Lechuza Caracas (Victor Vargas, Nico Pieres, Juan Martin Nero and Nico Espain).