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Saturday's 2016 United States Open Championship coverage


Wins by Dubai and White Birch in second round US Open play

By Alex Webbe

A powerful Dubai lineup (Rashid Albwardy, Alejo Taranco, Facundo Sola and Adolfo Cambiaso) proved to be ungracious guests as they beat Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Santi Torres, Alfredo Capella and Tomas Garcia del Rio) on their home turf Saturday afternoon, handing the 2015 defending US Open champions their second loss of the tournament and remaining undefeated themselves at 2-0.

Facundo Sola struck early for Dubai, putting them on top, 1-0 in the opening 40 seconds of the game. The Number 1 ranked player in the world, Argentine 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso added a goal with 5:32 left in the chukker as Dubai moved out to a 2-0 lead. Alfredo Capella finally got Valiente on the scoreboard at the 2:34 mark, 2-1, but Cambiaso scored his second goal of the game from the field to put Dubai on top of a 3-1 score.

A reorganized Valiente team took the field in the second chukker and aggressively pressed the attack. A pair of Dubai fouls sent Valiente to the penalty line where Tomas Garcia del Rio converted both attempts for goals. A sold defensive effort by Valiente held Dubai without a goal, leaving the score all even at 3-3.

Dubai bounced back in the third with Cambiaso scoring on a difficult backhander with 3:12 left in the chukker to regain the lead for Dubai, 4-3. The Dubai foursome demonstrated great teamwork on a scoring play from Cambiaso to Sola to Albwardy with just 1:29 remaining in the period. Albwardy scored the final goal of the chukker on a driving pass from Cambiaso with 34 seconds left on the clock. At the end of the first half it was Dubai in control of the game with a 6-3 lead.

A defensive fourth chukker followed the halftime break with goals being at a premium. Garcia del Rio accounted for the only goal in the period, converting a 30-yard penalty shot for a goal and cutting the Dubai lead down to two goals, 6-4.

Dubai regained control of the game in the fifth. Sola scored a goal from the field followed by a short penalty shot and the Dubai defense did the rest as they shut down the Valiente offense and left the field at the end of the fifth chukker with an 8-4 advantage over a struggling Valiente team.

Capella and Sola exchanged goals in sixth period action, with Capella adding a second goal with 47 second s left in regulation time as Dubai celebrated the 9-6 victory and a perfect 2-0 record.

Sola scored three of his game-high four goals from the field. Cambiaso scored three times and team captain Rashid Albwardy added two goals for the victory. Capella and Garcia del Rio each scored three times for Valiente, with all three of Garcia del Rio’s goals coming on penalty shots.

White Birch 11, Coca-Cola 10 in OT

Earlier in the day, White Birch (Mariano Obregon, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Peter Brant) improved their record to 2-0 with an overtime win at the expense of Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Sugar Erskine, Miguel Astrada and Julio Arellano) on the grounds of the International Polo Club.

Coca-Cola’s Sugar Erskine scored the first goal of the game two minutes into the opening chukker for the 1-0 lead, but it would be their last lead of the game. Mariano Obregon tied it at 1-1 at the four-minute mark on a neck-shot following a pass from Mariano Aguerre. Hilario Ulloa gave White Birch the 2-1 lead, converting a 30-yard penalty shot for a goal. Julio Arellano tied the game at 2-2 with a 60-yard penalty conversion in the final minute of the first chukker.

White Birch was awarded a goal on a Penalty 1 when Obregon was fouled in the Coca-Cola goalmouth, with 5:08 left in the chukker, 3-2. A minute later, Miguel Astrada scored his first goal of the game, following up a carry by Sugar Erskine, and leveling the score again at 3-3. White Birch closed out the chukker on goals from Ulloa and Aguerre for a two goal advantage, 5-3.

Ulloa scored a goal from the field in the opening 30 seconds of the third chukker as White Birch appeared to take control of the game, but Coca-Cola fought back. Astrada and Ulloa exchanged goals, 7-4, with Astrada scoring the final goal of the first half at the 1:25 mark. After three grueling chukkers of wide-open play, White Birch held the lead, 7-5.

Ulloa’s fifth goal of the game opened the second half and stretched the White Birch lead to three goals, 8-5, when the Coca-Cola offense stirred. Arellano took advantage of a foul in the area of the White Birch goal, and converted the short penalty shot that cut the lead back to two goals, 8-6. Erskine brought Coca-Cola to within a goal of the lead, 8-7 with his second goal of the contest and Arellano tied it on a 40-yard penalty conversion with just 53 seconds on the clock to end the fourth chukker all even at 8-8.

Rigid defenses and individual checking kept the scoring in the fifth chukker to a minimum despite a number of near goal shots from both sides. Ulloa broke the tie with a 30-yard penalty shot for a goal, 9-8. Arellano tied the game at 9-9 when he shoveled the ball through the White Birch goalposts as Aguerre was attempting to clear the ball. After five chukkers of play the score was all even at 9-9.

Aguerre scored the first goal of the sixth chukker midway through the period in what looked to be the winning goal, 10-9, but Coca-Cola wasn’t about to give up. With time running out in the final regulation chukker, White Birch team captain Peter Brant drove the ball out of bounds with 1:51 left to play, and because of the proximity of the ball to the spectators, was penalized. Instead of White Birch being able to run the clock out, Coca-Cola received the ball and a free hit. Thirty-eight seconds later, Coca-Cola team captain Gillian Johnston scored the tying goal, forcing a sudden-death overtime chukker.

After a brief recess allowing the players to organize fresh mounts, the match continued. White Birch got the opening advantage with a goal shot by Aguerre hitting a horse’s leg in front of the Coca-Cola goal and deflecting wide in the opening 20 seconds of overtime. Astrada returned the favor at the 5:52 mark driving a shot on the White Birch wide. A Coca-Cola foul with 5:07 left in the chukker sent Ulloa to the penalty line where he converted from 30-yards out for the winning goal, 11-10.

Ulloa led White Birch in scoring with seven goals (four on penalty shots). Aguerre scored twice and Obregon added a goal. The team also received one goal on a Penalty 1. Arellano scored three of his four goals on penalty conversions. Astrada scored three times; Erskine added two goals and Johnston was credited with a goal (the tying goal in the sixth chukker) in a losing effort.

Play continues in the 2016 United States Open Championship on Sunday, April 10th at the International Polo Club with a 10am contest between Audi (Marc Ganzi, Rodrigo Andrade, Gonzalito Pieres and Freddie Mannix) and Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Agustin Merlos, Sebastian Merlos and Nic Roldan). A 3pm match will feature Orchard Hill (Facundo Pieres, Julian de Lusarreta, Juan Martin Nero and Steve Van Andel) against Lucchese (John Muse, Nico Pieres, Magoo Laprida and Sapo Caset).