19th February 2019 | Wellington, Florida
Valiente beat the strong Colorado side by 10-9 in the extra chukker to win the All-Stars Challenge.
Valiente (Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Poroto Cambiaso, 3) became the first All-Stars Challenge winner by edging out a strong Colorado side chukker (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Jero del Carril, 7) in a 10-9 encounter which went to an extra chukker on Sunday in the championship match of the inaugural World Polo League’s All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament.
Valiente won the first All-Star Challenge by beating dominant Colorado in the thrilling final encounter, befitting the purpose of the World Polo League, that is, to host the highest level of Polo. The biggest star of the event was the Argentinian 10-Goaler Pablo Mac Donough, who scored game-high 8 goals, converting every penalty he was given. 8 goals coming by the way of penalties is rare for a team, let alone one player in a single encounter. Realizing this, the MVP of the game commented: "I have never had eight penalty goals in one game. This is the first time in my life I scored so many penalties in one game. It was good, especially the last one. I just wanted to hit the ball well and if you hit the ball well you have a chance to score. I just concentrated on putting the ball up in the air and that was it. Then you need a little bit of luck and it was on my side.”
The nail-biting contest, which was viewed by a record audience and streamed worldwide, was neck and neck at 9-9 till the final whistle after which extra time was awarded. Commenting on the league standards, Pablo MacDonough added: "This couldn't be any better, to win the first World Polo League tournament," McDonough said. "I am very happy to be part of this league. This is something good for polo here in America. I am glad to be here this season and hopefully, this league is here to stay."
The Valiente offense was spearheaded by the talented Santi Torres, who played an aggressive game. "The game was amazing," said Torres, who also won the 20-goal Sterling Cup last weekend with Colorado teammates Nick Johnson, Diego Cavanagh, and Jornayvaz. "That team was unbelievable. We played tough and tried to keep our man, but they are an awesome team. The whole game was tough.
"It feels great that we won and I am very grateful," Torres said. "It's amazing to win this tournament and be a part of history."
No team was able to assert complete dominance on the field. Although Valiente was leading by a single goal throughout the first half, Colorado was hot on their heels, leaving little margin for error. Continuously itching to hold the lead, Colorado made the game even more exciting in the 4th. Converting a couple of penalties in the fourth chukker, they gained a meager lead by 6-5 with 3:20 left and finished the chukker with 7-6.
The fifth chukker was more defensive with Valiente’s Cambiaso scoring the only goal of the chukker to level the field at 7-7 heading into the final chukker. MacDonough’s success with the penalties continued as he scored two consecutive goals from 60- and 40-yard penalties to give Valiente a 9-7 lead. However, Colorado was able to counter that by Jornyavaz' and del Carril's who both converted a 30-yarder to send the game into overtime. Pablo MacDonough then converted a 60-yard penalty shot to capture the win 26 seconds into the final chukker.
The breakthrough star in the league was the son of the veteran Adolfo Cambiaso, Poroto Cambiaso. Poroto Cambiaso has achieved a remarkable 3 goal handicap at the young age of 13 and was the youngest player in the eight-team tournament. He was selected Most Valuable Player of the tournament and presented a Catena Watch by Bill Kraft, the CEO of the company. Cambiaso was successful in scoring two goals in the final encounter, besting many of his much older contemporaries.