Orchard Hill Wins C.V. Whitney Opener in 14-13 OT Thriller
The opening game of the 26-goal season at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) was a déjà vu scene from the Ylvisaker Cup semi-finals. Once again, Orchard Hill took down Coca-Cola in a teeth-clenching overtime battle that ended 14-13 in favor of the Pieres-powered team.
Orchard Hill opened up the scoring with 10-goaler Polito Pieres finishing off the opening drive for the first goal of the game. Coca-Cola came right back with Miguel Novillo Astrada scoring his first goal of the season and Julio Arellano also adding a goal from the field to give Coca-Cola the lead. Facundo Pieres made a penalty 3 attempt for Orchard Hill to tie the game at 2 after the first chukker.
The second chukker was all Orchard Hill, as they completely dominated Coca-Cola. Orchard Hill won the second chukker 5-0 by shooting a perfect 4 of 4 from the field and converting their only penalty attempt, while Coca-Cola didn’t manage one shot from either the field or the penalty line in the chukker. Pieres added his second goal from the field, while Steve Van Andel replacement Hugo Taylor made a slick shot from 60 yards to score his first goal. Felipe Vercellino scored back-to-back goals to put all four Orchard Hill players on the scoresheet and give them a big 7-2 lead after two chukkers.
The third chukker was almost the opposite, as Julio Arellano scored 3 consecutive goals, two from the field and one from the penalty line to help Coca-Cola get back in the game and only trail 7-5 at halftime. Coca-Cola continued their run in the fourth chukker, with Astrada and Julian de Lusarreta scoring goals from the field and Arellano adding another penalty goal. That gave Coca-Cola 6 unanswered goals as they turned a 7-2 deficit into an 8-7 lead.
The game was back and forth the rest of the way, with Orchard Hill taking a one-goal lead into the sixth chukker. But a late goal from de Lusarreta tied the game up at 12 goals and sent it into overtime.
A new format had the teams playing a 3-and-a-half minute overtime rather than sudden death. Coca-Cola got out to an early lead in overtime, with Julio Arellano tapping in a penalty 2 attempt (his fourth penalty goal of the day) to give Coca-Cola the lead. On the next throw-in Vercellino finished off a run to tie the game back up. Going into the final 30 seconds, Coca-Cola got baited into a foul, which resulted in a penalty 2. Facundo Pieres did his job, winning the game for Orchard Hill 14-13. He went a perfect 7 of 7 from the penalty line, scoring 8 goals on the day, while Arellano led his Coca-Cola team with 8 goals as well.