Colorado rallied for a thrilling 9-8 upset of defending champion Valiente in front of a good local crowd. It was Colorado’s biggest tournament win in its two-year history as a team and first time all four players won the Sterling Cup including Johnson, who was making his 20-goal tournament debut.
Argentine 9-goaler Diego Cavanagh was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high four goals including the game-winner with two minutes left on an amazing 60-yard safety conversion in windy conditions. Colorado finished the five-day, six team tournament undefeated with a 3-0 record. In early games, Colorado defeated Santa Clara, 9-8, and Casablanca, 13-10, and finished with 31 goals in the tournament.
Valiente also scored 31 goals in three games. In its first two games, Valiente defeated Sebucan, 14-9 and Audi, 9-4.
In the fast-paced game, the lead changed hands five times late in the second half. Valiente led 5-3 at halftime and dominated most of the game until 6:08 in the fifth chukker when Cavanagh scored to tie the game at 6-6. Valiente regained the lead, 7-6, on Zedda’s 30-yard penalty conversion with 2:43 left. Colorado tied the game at 7-7 after Johnson tapped in Cavanagh’s missed safety with 49 seconds left in the fifth chukker.
Colorado took the lead, 8-7, for the first time with 7:23 left in the sixth chukker on Cavanagh’s 30-yard penalty conversion. Four minutes later, Adolfo Cambiaso scored to tie the game, 8-8. Colorado took the lead for the second and final time when Cavanagh nailed a safety lofting the ball 60 yards to the left of the goal post, curving in with the help of the wind. After that it was just a matter of Colorado eating up the clock.
Torres turned in one of his finest performances in a final, playing aggressively, coming up with key steals and defending well. It was also Torres and Johnson who kept the ball away from Valiente in the final minute.
STERLING CUP FINAL: COLORADO 9-8 VALIENTE
COLORADO: Rob Jornayvaz 2 (2 goals), Santi Torres 6 (2), Diego Cavanagh 9 (4), Nick Johnson 3 (1). Total: 20.
VALIENTE: Kian Hall 3 (2 goals), Robert Zedda 4 (3), Poroto Cambiaso 3 (1), Adolfo Cambiaso 10 (2). Total: 20.
MVP: Diego Cavanagh.
BPP of the Final: Moonshine, played by Poroto Cambiaso.
BPP of the Tournament: Dolfina El Festival (Dolfina Cuartetera Clone 04 and Dolfina El Ventura), played by Adolfo Cambiaso.
BPP by the APHA (American Polo Horse Association): Lufthanza, ridden by Poroto Cambiaso.