Valiente Captures 2018 USPA Gold Cup
In their closest game yet throughout 26-goal play, Valiente survived a late attack from Flexjet to capture the 2018 USPA Gold Cup with the 12-11 victory on the Engel & Volkers Field at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Given too much time and space early in the game, the 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres worked effectively by playing off each other to dominate possession and leave Flexjet on the defensive during the first half of the game. Compounded by Flexjet’s seven first half fouls, the attack of Valiente built a three-goal lead early in the game due to the field advantage provided by a Flexjet team that was unable to execute their own strategy in the game. The Flexjet attack proved to be more consistent in the second half with more support provided to Nico and Gonzalito Pieres on their running attacks, resulting in Valiente being placed in more difficult positions defensively and committing fouls in key areas to help Flexjet close the deficit. After cleaning up their fouls late in the game, Valiente was able to maintain their advantage, led by a strong defensive effort from Tommy Beresford to edge out Flexjet 12-11 in a game that came down to the final seconds.
The two-man strategy of Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres from the start of the game gave Flexjet difficulties as Pieres led the way scoring two goals in the opening chukka with Flexjet failing to record a shot and trailing by one goal with Nico Pieres converting a penalty opportunity for their first goal. It was Cambiaso that led the way offensively in the following chukka, as he converted both of his shot attempts to score two goals of his own, along with another penalty conversion for Facundo Pieres to give Valiente the 5-3 lead. Winning 7 of 11 throw-ins in the opening half along with controlling the ball possession kept Flexjet from reducing the deficit as Cambiaso matched Facundo Pieres’ three goals in the first half to give Valiente a commanding three-goal advantage at 6-3.
The pace of the game picked up in the fourth chukka as a combined six field goals were scored, with both teams shooting 3 for 4 from the field. Nico Pieres was the catalyst for Flexjet offensively scoring his third and fourth goals, while Valiente responded with a balance attack that saw a goal each from Cambiaso, Facundo Pieres and Tommy Beresford to maintain their lead. Foul trouble for Valiente provided an opportunity for Flexjet to finally reduce the deficit and Nico Pieres took full advantage, scoring three goals in the fifth chukka, two of which came from the penalty line, as Flexjet found themselves within two goals heading into the final chukka. Valiente worked hard defensively to hold off the relentless Flexjet attack in the final chukka, but with just a minute remaining, Rodrigo Andrade attacked goal and was able to bring his team within one-goal as time was running out. A miss hit pass out of the throw-in resulted in an interception for Facundo Pieres and he ran into open space to run out the clock as Valiente continued their undefeated run, claiming their third straight tournament title with the 12-11 victory.