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Mia Cambiaso Makes Surprise High-Goal Debut in Gold Cup

Darlene Ricker | 07/05/17

Mia Cambiaso Makes Surprise High-Goal Debut in Gold Cup

Darlene Ricker

Changes in a lineup always draw curiosity, but rarely has one seen a buzz like the

one that ripped through the sidelines at Manor Farm as Murus Sanctus rode onto

the field Wednesday in the 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup. Sporting the No. 1

jersey was a diminutive female figure with a pigtail hanging down her back, but this

long-distance look-alike wasn’t patrona Corinne Ricard. It was 14-year- old Mia

Cambiaso in her high-goal debut.

 

Ricard had injured her hand in a non-polo- related accident and decided to recruit a

sub. (She will be back for the next game.) The only female player in the Gold Cup,

Ricard felt strongly that a woman should replace a woman—but not just any

woman. The sub had to be someone she felt comfortable lending her horses to: a

good horsewoman and a good player who is skilled enough to step into high-goal.

You don’t just ride up and down the sidelines looking for that package, so Ricard had

to think outside the box.

 

Her choice took Mia as much by surprise as it did anyone else. She got the call the

day before the game. The next thing she knew she was on the practice field with 10-

goaler Hilario Ulloa, Facundo Sola and Martín Podesta. Then she went up against the

force of Freddie Mannix’s victorious Sommelier and kept pace in a tooth-and- nails

battle. In an attack mode that mirrored that of her dad Adolfo Cambiaso, who was

watching from the tent, Mia made a fierce shot at goal that came within a breath of

rolling through the posts.

 

She had only one thing to say when asked how it was to play against some of the top

pros in the world: “Hard!”

 

To watch her play, it is obvious she is a Cambiaso. She is excellent at hitting the ball

on the run and already has a high understanding of where she needs to be and

where the flow of the game is going. Mia is an extremely good rider in the style of

her father, who early on impressed upon her the importance of horsemanship.

When she told him she wanted to become a polo player, he said, “Okay, but you have

to be a good rider first. Then you can learn to hit the ball.”

 

That advice came in handy Wednesday. Mia had to adjust her skills in a game of

contrasting styles between two strong teams. Murus Sanctus used an individual

style, with Ulloa and Sola each trying to attack on their own merits rather than as a

unit. Sommelier used more of a team-based passing style that ultimately took the

day.

 

With just one penalty shot in the first half, the game was continually flowing (only

11 fouls total) and decided in open play. Sommelier only shot 3/9 (33%) in first half

but held on to tie the game at 4 at the close of the third chukka. The fourth chukka

was key for Sommelier, who converted all three of their shot attempts. Ulloa

uncharacteristically missed two penalties to give Sommelier a 2-goal lead, which

they maintained for most of the second half, converting 6 of 7 shots.

 

Strong attacks from Alec White allowed Juan Zavaleta to stay back more, and Mannix

had a very strong game, finishing with 6 goals. Sommelier seemed to stretch the

field out better with their passing and played a glue-tight defense on Ulloa and Sola,

knowing they weren’t going to pass long downfield as much. George Hanbury

worked like a badger defensively on Podesta, who had a great game, and hit

numerous backhands to stop the attack. Overall the teamwork and passing attack of

Sommelier went one goal better than the individual style of Ulloa and Sola.

 

Sommelier captain Mannix, who played every moment at the top of his game and

made the winning goal, was elated. “What a game! Extra special because it’s our first

win in the Gold Cup, and we knew how important it was to win,” he said. “I have

really seen the team evolving and working so hard for this victory. It’s a special

moment in my career to take a team that didn’t know each other two months ago

and beat a team that was in the semifinals of the Queen’s Cup [Murus Sanctus].”

 

Photo provided by The Telegraph