Ellerstina Wins Hurlingham Open Final 10-9 in Overtime Assault
By Darlene Ricker
After a 5-year drought, Ellerstina reclaimed the Hurlingham Open championship Wednesday at Hurlingham Polo Club. A golden goal by Gonzalo Pieres in overtime sealed the win for Ellerstina Johor, who took defending champion La Dolfina Sancor Seguros to the wire for a 10-9 victory.
This marked the seventh consecutive year that the two archrivals scrapped it out for the Hurlingham title. Ellerstina hadn’t won the Hurlingham final since 2010; La Dolfina kept the win from them every year from 2011 to 2015. With the 2016 win, Ellerstina halted La Dolfina’s seemingly unbreakable season streak of 39 consecutive victories.
Unlike the battle that unfurled in the Tortugas Open final—an extraordinary faceoff between Ellerstina and La Dolfina—the Hurlingham final was somewhat lackluster until the latter part of the match. Judging from the early part of the game, no one would have guessed it would go into an extra chukka. The competition got off to an exceedingly slow start, with both sides playing more conservatively than usual and concentrating on defense. The scoreboard reflected that, with the game averaging just 1.5 goals per chukka for the first half (6 goals total in 4 chukkas). Things stood at a near standstill in the second chukka, in which neither side scored.
The action accelerated in the second half, which opened 4-all. La Dolfina took a slight edge in the sixth and seventh chukkas, which closed 6-5 and 8-6 respectively, courtesy of goals by Pablo MacDonough and Adolfo Cambiaso. However, the score went even again in the eighth when the game tied at 9-all just 14 seconds until the bell.
At 2 minutes 9 seconds into overtime, Gonzalito Pieres ran the ball from one end of the field to the other and straight through the goalposts. The feat unleashed a tremendous celebration among spectators, paralleled afterward in the Ellerstina tent.
Gonzalito Pieres, who was named Most Valuable Player, put in an astounding performance throughout the match. He scored five goals on the day, and his brother Facundo Pieres scored four.
Gonzalito Pieres also collected awards for his horses, which earned both the AAP award and the AACCP trophy (Open Z Jones). Best Playing Pony of the final went to Anay Sur La Hairy, played by Juan Martín Nero.