By Alex Webbe
La Indiana (Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan, Agustin Merlos and Julian De Lusarreta) remained perfect in British Open play with a 3-0 record following their 12-10 win over the Cowdray Vikings (George Pearson, Chris Mackenzie, Jack Richardson and Alejandro Novillo Astrada) Sunday afternoon in British Open competition at the Cowdray Park Polo Club, but it wasn’t easy.
First chukker goals from Julian de Lusarreta, Nic Roldan and Agustin Merlos were answered by a single penalty goal from Alejandro Novillo Astrada of the Cowdray Vikings in what looked like was going to be a long day for George Pearson and company.
Astrada opened the second period with a goal from the field, 3-2, followed by a goal from Roldan on a pass from Agustin Merlos, 4-2. A penalty conversion from Astrada and a goal from Chris Mackenzie had it all even at 4-4 at the end of the chukker.
Merlos took the lead back for La Indiana on a penalty conversion, 5-4, and de Lusarreta made it 6-4 with his second goal of the game. Jack Richardson scored the final goal of the first half that had La Indiana leading, 6-5.
Agustin Merlos opened the scoring in the second half with his third goal of the game, 7-5, but a determined Cowdray Vikings lineup responded. Back-to-back goals from Richardson ended the period with the score all even at 7-7.
Richardson’s fourth goal of the day gave the Cowdray Vikings their first lead of the game, 8-7, but La Indiana battled back. Merlos tied it with a goal from the field and then converted a penalty shot tor the 9-8 lead. Roldan found himself on the scoring end of a long and well-placed pass from de Lusarreta, 10-8, with Mackenzie keeping the Vikings close with the last goal of the chukker, 10-9.
Astrada tied the score at 10-10 as the sixth chukker got underway, but that was when the Cowdray Vikings attack faltered. Roldan sent well-executed backhander to both Merlos and de Lusarreta Merlos and de Lusarreta that resulted in goals as La Indiana recorded their third straight win and earning a berth in the tournament’s quarterfinals. The loss was the third for the Cowdray Vikings (1-3), and eliminated them from the competition.
Merlos scored a game-high six goals (two on penalty shots). Roldan and de Lusarreta each scored three times for the win. Astrada and Richardson each scored four goals. Mackenzie added two goals in the losing effort.
Britannia El Remanso 13, Murus Sanctus 10
Earlier in the day, James Harper scored the first three goals of the game for Britannia El Remanso (Charlie Hanbury, Ollie Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper) as they shot out to an early lead over Murus Sanctus (Corinne Ricard, Manuel Elizalde, Facundo Sola and Alfredo Cappella) before recording a 13-10 win. Early fouls by Murus Sanctus sent Harper to the penalty line where he converted all three first chukker penalty shots for a 3-0 lead. Murus Sanctus was unable to mount an effective attack and was held scoreless.
Facundo Sola scored the first goal of the second period, 3-1, but goals from Ollie Cudmore and Charlie Hanbury stretched their lead to four goals, 5-1. Sola and Harper exchanged 30-yard penalty goals to end the chukker with El Remanso on top, 6-2.
An aggressive Murus Sanctus team got things started quickly in third period action. Taking the ball from the starting throw-in, Alfredo Cappella carried it down the field for his first goal of the day, 6-3. Sola scored the only other goal of the chukker as he followed up another run at goal by Cappella. El Remanso was unable to score but continued to lead at the end of the first half, 6-4.
El Remanso bounced back in the fourth period. Harper scored from the field, 7-4, for the first goal of the second half, and Cudmore added another on a pass from Harper, 8-4. James Beim made it 9-4 with his first goal of the day with Sola closing out the chukker a goal for Murus Sanctus. At the end of the fourth chukker, El Remanso had extended their lead to four goals, 9-5.
Murus Sanctus answered the bell for the fifth chukker with goals from Cappella and Corinne Ricard that cut the El Remanso lead to two goals, 9-7. Harper and Cappella traded goals, 10-8, before a Penalty resulted in the awarding of a goal to El Remanso to make it 11-8. Sola scored the last two goals of the chukker that had Murus Sanctus within a goal of the lead, 11-10, with one period remaining to be played in regulation time.
The El Remanso defense stood solid in the final seven minutes of play while picking up goals from Beim and Harper. The final horn sounded with Britannia El Remanso scoring a 13-10 win and improving their record to 2-1. The loss was the third in a row for Murus Sanctus who found themselves out of the running with an 0-3 record.
Harper led all scoring with seven goals (five on penalty conversions). Beim and Cudmore added two goals each and Hanbury picked up a goal for the win. Sola’s six goals led the Murus Sanctus offense. Cappella scored three times and Ricard added a goal in the loss.
British Open play continues on Monday, July 4th when La Bamba de Areco (Jean Francois Decaux, Diego Cavanagh, Magoo Laprida and Rodrigo Rueda) faces RH Polo (Ben Soleimani, Ali Patterson, Rodrigo Andrade and Nicolas Pieres). Both teams are winless with identical 0-3 records.