By Alex Webbe
HB Polo (Ludovic Pailloncy, Ignacio Toccalino, Pelon Stirling and Sebastien Pailloncy) remained undefeated (2-0) in the 2016 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Sunday afternoon at the Cowdray Park Polo Club with an 11-9 overtime win at the expense of La Bamba de Areco (Jean Francois Decaux, Diego Cavanagh, Magoo Laprida and Rodrigo Rueda).
Ten-goaler Pelon Stirling scored the first goal of the game late in the first period but it was who were applying the pressure on the HB Polo defense. At the end of the chukker it was HB Polo with the delicate one goal lead, 1-0.
La Bamba de Areco continued to press the attack in the second period but the La Bamba de Areco defense held. Twice Stirling was called upon to make saves, sending the ball over his own end-line and resulting in 60-yard penalty shots. Both times Diego Cavanagh pushed high-lofted shots wide. Ludovic Pailloncy scored the second goal of the game on a backhand pass from teammate Ignacio Toccalino. For the second consecutive chukker La Bamba de Areco was held scoreless and trailed 2-0.
The constant offensive pressure of La Bamba de Areco finally started to pay off in the third period with Magoo Laprida playing as if he were possessed. Laprida’s first goal came on a shot from 90-yards out followed by two more from the field as La Bamba de Areco dominated the throw-ins. Laprida’s third goal of the chukker gave La Bamba de Areco their first lead of the game, 3-2. Stirling scored the final goal of the chukker to tie the game at 3-3 as the first half ended.
The pace escalated in the fourth chukker with Stirling scoring the first goal of the period to put HB Polo in the lead, 4-3. Laprida scored on a long pass from Diego Cavanagh for another tie, 4-4. A La Bamba de Areco foul sent Stirling to the penalty line where he converted a shot from 60-yards out and HB Polo moved in front again, 5-4. With three minutes left in the chukker, Cavanagh scored his first goal of the day, leveling the score at 5-5. A final goal from Sebastien Pailloncy allowed HB Polo to ride off the field on top of a 6-5 score.
An aggressive HB Polo attack in the fifth chukker saw them move out to an 8-5 lead on goals from Toccalino and Stirling while La Bamba de Areco struggled with their offense. Sebastien Pailloncy scored the final goal of the period on a nice run that saw La Bamba de Areco leaving the field trailing by four goals, 9-5.
As La Bamba de Areco frantically attempted a last chukker rally, HB Polo began making mistakes. The first foul of the period saw Cavanagh convert a short penalty shot for a goal, 9-6. Stirling scored on a pass from Toccalino, 10-6, when the momentum turned. Back-to-back penalty conversions from Cavanagh cut the HB Polo lead down to two goals, 10-8, and there was no let-up from La Bamba de Areco. Laprida scored on a well-placed shot from the field, 10-9, with Cavanagh converting his fourth penalty shot of the chukker to tie the game at ten goals apiece and force a sudden-death overtime chukker.
Following a brief intermission both teams returned to the field with La Bamba de Areco offering the opening offensive assault. HB Polo, however, reversed the field on them with Toccalino scoring on a long pass from Stirling for the win in the opening minute of overtime, 11-10.
Stirling led the field with six goals. Toccalino and Sebastien Pailloncy scored two goals apiece and Ludovic Pailloncy added a goal for the victory. Cavanagh and Laprida scored five goals each for La Bamba de Areco.
The win keeps HB Polo perfect at 2-0 while La Bamba de Areco remains winless in their first two games of the tournament, 0-2.
Cowdray Park Vikings 10, Murus Sanctus 9
The Cowdray Vikings (George Pearson, Chris Mackenzie, Jack Richardson and Alejandro Novillo Astrada) won their first game of the tournament against Murus Sanctus (Corinne Ricard, Manuel Elizalde, Facundo Sola and Alfredo Cappella), but had to hold off a last chukker rally for the 10-9 victory.
Murus Sanctus took the early lead on a pair of goals from Facundo Sola and a single goal from Manual Elizalde. The Cowdray Park Vikings were held to a single penalty goal from Jack Richardson and trailed 3-1 after the first chukker.
Alejandro Novillo Astrada got the Vikings back into the game with the opening goal of the second period, 3-2. Chris Mackenzie followed up a run by Richardson and tapped the ball through the goalposts to level the score at 3-3. Sola took the lead back for Murus Sanctus on a long run that ended the chukker with Murus Sanctus on top, 4-3.
The third chukker belonged to the Cowdray Park Vikings who provided shutout defense while allowing Mackenzie to add two more goals for a 5-4 halftime lead.
Richardson scored the first goal of the fourth chukker with Mackenzie adding his fourth of the day for a 7-4 Vikings’ lead. Sola and Astrada traded penalty goals that closed out the chukker with the Cowdray Park Vikings in the lead by three goals, 8-5.
It looked like the Cowdray Park Vikings were going to continue to dominate as Astrada’s third goal of the day extended the Viking’s lead to four goals, 9-5. Marcus Sanctus shored up their defenses and answered with a goal from Sola. After five chukkers of play the Cowdray Park Vikings continued to lead, 9-6.
Richardson’s third score of the match stretched the Vikings’ lead to four goals, 10-6, when Cappella caught fire. Cappella scored back-to-back goals that cut the Vikings’ lead to two goals, 10-8, with three minutes on the game clock. Cappella brought Murus Sanctus to within a goal of the lead, 10-9 when the Vikings finally dug in. The Cowdray Park Vikings knew that time was against Murus Sanctus, and fought to control the ball for the final minute of play. Murus Sanctus tried, but the rally stalled and the Cowdray Park Vikings celebrated the 10-9 win.
Mackenzie led the Vikings attack with four goals. Richardson and Astrada each scored three times for the win. Sola’s five goals led all scorers. Cappella scored four times in the loss.
Play continues in the British Open with a 2pm Monday match between Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Ralph Richardson, Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero) and La Indiana (Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan, Agustin Merlos and Julian De Lusarreta). It was only last month when La Indiana and half of the Valiente team (Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero), playing as Dubai, met La Indiana in the final of the Queens Cup, a game won by Dubai, 12-11. Both Valiente and La Indiana recorded wins in their opening British Open games and will carry identical 1-0 records onto the pitch on Monday.