La Dolfina and Alegría Steal Opening Day With Decisive Wins in Palermo

By Darlene Ricker

La Dolfina trounced Cría Yatay 22-7 and Alegría defeated Washington 18-13 Saturday on opening day at the 123rd Argentine Open Polo Championship.

In a game that was essentially over before it began, La Dolfina seized an immediate lead and proceeded to crush a struggling Cría Yatay. Cría Yatay made a respectable showing in the second chukka with two goals, one each by Magoo Laprida and Joaquín Pittaluga. They narrowed La Dolfina’s lead to 2 (4-2), but the respite was brief. Cría Yatay went more than 35 minutes without scoring as Adolfo Cambiaso and crew surged into nonstop attack mode, making 17 goals in a row between the third chukka and the middle of the seventh. Cría Yatay was scoreless in the third and fourth.

Pablo MacDonough was the man of the day. He went on a scoring frenzy in the fourth, making four goals, and continued to play an extraordinary match with Cambiaso, Juan Martín Nero and David Stirling. In the first half they made eight out of 12 attempts on goal, while Cría Yatay’s ratio was one out of six.

The second half opened 12-2. MacDonough stayed in form in the fifth, making two goals. Cambiaso, playing a Cuartetera clone (B02) that accelerated like a Maserati, scored twice in the sixth, bringing La Dolfina’s lead to 18-2. He trotted out yet another clone in the final chukka, a Lapa replicate (C02) that showed the same razor-sharp handling as the original. MacDonough played the peerless Chocolate.

 

With the win in their back pocket, La Dolfina was clearly playing to conserve their horses in the eighth. They allowed Cría Yatay four goals, one each by Laprida and Pittaluga, followed by two by Guillermo Terrera. With 33 seconds left on the clock, Cambiaso swooped in for the last goal of the day, and La Dolfina galloped off with a 22-7 victory.

 

The second game of the day, which Facundo Sola (who made nine goals) afterward called “complicated,” was hotly contested. Alegría ended up with an 18-13 win over Washington. Fred Mannix had an outstanding day, starting with three goals in the second. His first two came in rapid-fire succession less than two minutes into the match. Mannix and Sapo Caset each made sharply angled cutshots into goal.

 

Exhibiting laser focus all the way through, Hilario Ulloa made three goals for Alegría in the third chukka, two of them from the penalty line. Power hitter Alfredo Cappella slammed one in from 97 yards for Washington. The third chukka closed with Alegría leading 11-3, and Washington trimmed the gap to 12-6 at the close of the first half.

 

The fifth chukka was uncharacteristically slow, as Ulloa was the sole scorer with one goal. It turned into a running game in the sixth and remained so until the end, with Ulloa and Sola each contributing a storm of goals in the seventh. Alegría played on to an 18-13 win.

 

The tournament continues Sunday, with Ellerstina facing off against La Irenita and La Aguada playing El Paraíso. All games of the Open may be viewed (except for in Latin America) on livestream at: http://espni.go.com/player/video/playdemoesp/index.htm

 

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