By Darlene Ricker
In Saturday’s third round of the 123rd Hurlingham Open, La Dolfina Sancor Seguros took a commanding 16-9 win over La Aguada Las Monjitas, and El Paraíso defeated Cría Yatay 15-11.
The match between La Dolfina and La Aguada was just about as close as polo comes to hand-to-hand combat. Amidst a sea of fouls and rancor on the field, the Cañuelas contingent never gave La Aguada a break. The Novillo Astradas, as always, fought until their last breath, with Alejandro and Ignacio Novillo Astrada both picking up yellow cards. But no matter what, they could not get traction. Just when it looked like the first chukka was going to close with both teams scoreless, Adolfo Cambiaso converted a penalty from 60 yards and David Stirling came through with a goal from the field.
La Aguada kept the damage to a minimum through the third chukka, which ended 5-2 for La Dolfina. From that point on, La Dolfina surged ahead, taking a six-goal lead at the end of the first half (9-3). La Aguada rallied in the sixth chukka with three goals, bringing the score to 13-7, and got on the board in each of the last two chukkas. They kept La Dolfina from scoring in the final chukka, but by then the damage was insurmountable. The game ended 16-9 for La Dolfina.
Cambiaso led the scoring with 12 goals, seven of them from the penalty line. Sebastian Merlos did a superb job playing in place of Juan Martín Nero, who was recovering from a serious fall.
In the other match, the teams were evenly matched. Both Cría Yatay and El Paraíso were strong all the way through, with the spread never exceeding two goals until the very end. The final chukka opened with a nail-biting 12-11 for El Paraíso, who closed the door with three unanswered goals for a 15-11 victory. Agustín Merlos (El Paraíso) and Joaquín Pittaluga (Cría Yatay) led the scoring with eight goals apiece.
The quarterfinals conclude Sunday, when Alegría Assist Card takes on La Irenita and Ellerstina Johor faces Washington.