By Alex Webbe
La Indiana (Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan, Agustin Merlos and Julian De Lusarreta) recorded their first win of the 2016 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open with a hard-fought 13-10 win over a scrappy Britannia El Remanso lineup (Charlie Hanbury, Ollie Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper) in a game that was tied five times.
La Indiana was coming off of an appearance in the final of the Cartier Queens Cup and was looking to establish themselves as a power going forward and their performance in Thursday afternoon’s game did little to harm that reputation.
Both teams struggled to find a rhythm in the early going as they took turns trying to develop an effective attack. Agustin Merlos scored the first goal of the day off of a pass from teammate Nic Roldan, cutting the ball through the Britannia El Remanso goalposts to make it 1-0. Moments later Merlos scored his second goal of the day for a 2-0 advantage. Britannia El Remanso was unable to get on the scoreboard in the opening chukker and left the field trailing by two, 2-0.
Britannia El Remanso tried to make up for their lack of offense in the opening seven minutes of play and did so effectively behind the mallet of English 7-goaler James Beim. Beim scored his first goal from the field cutting the La Indiana lead in half, 2-1. A La Indiana foul sent James Harper to the 30-yard penalty line for Britannia El Remanso where an attempt to tie the game went wide. Britannia El Remanso got another shot at it a short time later with Beim converting from the 30-yard line to level the score at 2-2. Beim scored his third consecutive goal of the chukker off of a penalty shot from Harper from midfield, and gave Britannia El Remanso their first lead of the game, 3-2. Britannia El Remanso continued to press the attack with Ollie Cudmore breaking free with the ball and scoring his first goal of the day for a two goal, 4-2 advantage for Britannia El Remanso. Merlos scored his third goal of the game, slicing into the Britannia El Remanso lead, 4-3. Nic Roldan tied the game at 4-4 with a well-executed nearside backhander to end the second chukker.
Another La Indiana foul gave Britannia El Remanso a scoring opportunity with Beim lining up to take the 30-yard shot. Amazingly, Beim pushed the shot wide and the score stood at 4-4. A second 30-yard penalty shot was awarded to Britannia El Remanso with Harper returning to the penalty shooting duties where he converted for the 5-4 Britannia El Remanso lead. With Britannia El Remanso pressing the attack, Roldan made a brilliant save in the goal mouth and cleared the ball before blistering it down the field to a streaking de Lusarreta who scored the final goal of the first half to tie the game at 5-5.
Merlos opened the scoring in the second half with a 30-yard penalty conversion that gave the lead back to La Indiana, 6-5 when the Britannia El Remanso
Fought back. Harper converted a 30-yard penalty shot of his own and added a goal from the field that put Britannia El Remanso back into the lead, 7-6. A goal from teammate charley Hanbury stretched the lead to two goals, 8-6 before La Indiana responded. In a great display of individual effort, de Lusarreta wove his way through the Britannia El Remanso lineup to drive the ball through the goalposts, cutting the lead down to a single goal, 8-7. Roldan immediately followed up, taking the ball from the throw-in and racing 150-yards down the field to deadlock it at 8-8 at the end of the fourth chukker.
Roldan opened the fifth period with an impressive drive down the field, carrying the ball on his nearside and sending it through the Britannia El Remanso goalposts for a 9-8 La Indiana lead. Consecutive goals from de Lusarreta gave La Indiana their biggest lead of the day, 11-8. A 60-yard penalty conversion from Harper ended the chukker with La Indiana enjoying an 11-9, two goal lead.
A Safety by La Indiana send Harper to the 60-yard lien where he successfully converted the shot for a goal, bringing Britannia El Remanso to within a goal of the lead, 11-10. Merlos scored on a 30-yard penalty shot to make it 12-10, La Indiana and de Lusarreta added a goal that proved to be the final goal of the game in a 13-10 La Indiana victory.
Merlos and de Lusarreta scored five goals apiece for La Indiana. Roldan added three goals and provided impressive defense under pressure throughout the game. James Harper’s five goals (four on penalty shots) led the Britannia El Remanso offense. Beim scored twice with Cudmore and Hanbury each scoring a goal in the loss.
King Power Foxes 11, La Bamba de Areco 7
Handicapped by a rain delay, a heavy field and rain, the King Power Foxes (Top Srivaddhanaprabha, Hugo Lewis, Gonzalito Pieres and Facundo Pieres) took their first step in defending their 2015 British Open Championship by beating La Bamba de Areco (Jean Francois Decaux, Diego Cavanagh, Magoo Laprida and Rodrigo Rueda) 11-7 Thursday afternoon at the Cowdray Park Polo Club.
The two teams battled to a 1-1 tie in the opening chukker before King Power flexed their muscles to build up a 6-3 halftime lead.
A determined La Bamba de Areco team stormed back onto the field for the second half of play behind goals from Diego Cavanagh (60-yard penalty conversion) and Magoo Laprida that cut the King Poer lead to a single goal, 6-5. Rodrigo Rueda added another goal to the La Bamba de Areco total. King Power responded with single goals from Facundo Pieres and his older brother, Gonzalito Pieres (penalty goal), 8-6Cavanagh and Gonzalito Pieres traded penalty goals for the only scoring in the fifth period. King Power continued to lead, 9-7.
La Bamba de Areco had pressured King Power throughout the game but seemed to run out of gas in the final minutes of play. Facundo Pieres scored the first goal of the final chukker, giving King Power a three goal, 10-7 edge with time running out. Gonzalito Pieres scored the final goal of the game on a brilliantly executed 300+ yard run for the 11-7 final.
British Open play will continue on Saturday with Clarke & Green (Nick Clarke, Juan G. Zavaleta, Luke Tomlinson and John Paul Clarkin) playing RH Polo (Ben Soleimani, Ali Paterson, Rodrigo Andrade and Nicolas Pieres) at 3pm followed by a 5pm match between Talandracas (Edouard Carmignac, Pablo Pieres, Tommy Beresford and Sapo Caset) and Apes Hill (George Hanbury, Mark Tomlinson, Eduardo N. Astrada and Alec White).