By Darlene Ricker
Sunday’s semifinal at Tortugas Country Club landed squarely on the side of the odds makers. To the surprise of few Ellerstina slammed their way into a spot in the final of the 2016 Tortugas Open, defeating Alegría 11-9. The win guaranteed there would be the hoped-for duel between Ellerstina and their perpetual rival La Dolfina in next Saturday’s final.
The Ellerstina-La Dolfina showdown has played out in more recent Argentine Triple Crown tournament finals than one can count. Yet there is always the chance of an upset, and Alegría did everything they could to tip the scales in their favor Sunday. Hilario Ulloa paralleled Facundo Pieres as game high-scorer, totaling five goals each. Alegría poured it on in the final chukka, holding La Dolfina scoreless.
Ulloa did what he can always be counted on to do, casually notching a couple of goals from the penalty line. That shaved Ellerstina’s comfortable four-goal lead down to a tense two in the final minutes of the match. Ellerstina shrugged it off and just kept playing like Ellerstina. Mounting a strong, organised defense, they kept the damage down to two and clinched the win.
Although Facundo Pieres didn’t score in the final chukka, he systematically did so in every previous chukka. Cousin Polito Pieres, back from suspension, made three total goals from the field. By the time the final horn sounded, each member of the Pieres quartet had contributed to the scoreboard. Gonzalito Pieres was credited with three goals and Nico Pieres with one.
Alegría’s power slate shared the wealth among Ulloa, Sapo Caset (3 goals) and Lucas Monteverde (1). A calculated Caset came through on particularly critical plays, scoring from the field in the third, fifth and sixth chukkas.
The final takes place Saturday, 15 October, with Ellerstina vying against La Dolfina.