In a dramatic final to the 2017 Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo, La Dolfina survived the 8thchukka comeback from Ellerstina, finishing with the thrilling 14-13 overtime victory on Field 1 in Palermo, securing their fifth consecutive title.
After Ellerstina raced out to an early three-goal lead, La Dolfina controlled the throw-in battle to begin their attacks, pressuring the Ellerstina defence into committing too many fouls throughout the match. Passing into open space in the middle of the field, La Dolfina was able to attack goal on the run, placing Ellerstina in vulnerable positions defensively. Provided with nine penalty attempts in the game, La Dolfina took advantage, converting eight of those opportunities and turning a three-goal deficit into a four-goal lead late in the game. Three consecutive goals from Ellerstina in the 8th chukka wasn’t enough as Juan Martin Nero converted a cut shot in overtime, sealing the title for La Dolfina.
Early in the game, Ellerstina controlled possession and played at a breakneck pace, resulting in six shots at goal in the opening chukka. An impressive goal from Polito Pieres opened the scoring, but Adolfo Cambiaso quickly responded with a penalty goal to even the score at 1-1. The following throw-in was finished by Gonzalito Pieres and shortly followed by Polito Pieres’ second goal of the game as Ellerstina opened up an early 3-1 lead.
After Polito Pieres stole the ball in front of La Dolfina’s goal to score his third goal of the game and extend Ellerstina’s lead, La Dolfina began a run of their own, scoring four consecutive goals, three of which came from the mallet of Cambiaso. Six fouls from Ellerstina in the third and fourth chukkas resulted in two penalty goals, along with a third goal directly from a Penalty 5B, as La Dolfina held on to a slim 7-6 lead at halftime. Five goals each in the first half from Cambiaso and Polito Pieres, the two leading scorers of the tournament, set-up a second half that was destined to be close.
Polito Pieres continued the scoring to begin the second half, scoring two quick goals to provide Ellerstina with a one-goal lead. Cambiaso, not to be outdone, responded with two goals of his own, both via the penalty line, to restore La Dolfina’s lead. Foul trouble for Ellerstina led to a three-goal sixth chukka for La Dolfina, behind two more penalty goals, one each for Cambiaso and Nero as La Dolfina extended their lead to two with just two chukkas remaining.
The two-goal lead quickly turned to four goals with Cambiaso converting a penalty 2 and taking the following throw-in to just yards in front of the Ellerstina goal, ultimately finished off by Nero as La Dolfina finishing a stretch that saw La Dolfina score six of the last seven goals. A back and forth battle in the remainder of the seventh chukka favoured La Dolfina as time continued to tick down, but a late goal from Nico Pieres gave Ellerstina hope, down three goals heading into the eighth chukka.
A penalty 3 conversion from Facundo Pieres shrunk the deficit to two goals but with just two minutes left, time was running out for Ellerstina. Completing a perfect passing play, Polito Pieres scored his eighth goal of the game, with just one minute and five seconds left in the game. Just seconds later, on the following throw-in, Ellerstina forced La Dolfina into a foul, placing Facundo Pieres on the 60-yard line with an opportunity to tie the game. Doing just that, Facundo Pieres sent the game to overtime, providing a fitting end to a tense final.
Overtime didn’t last long between the two high-octane offenses, as Ellerstina possessed the ball deep in the La Dolfina half, yet a turnover resulted in Cambiaso finding open space near midfield. A well-placed pass found Nero on the breakaway and his cut-shot was just inches out of the reach of the Ellerstina defender, crossing the line and sending La Dolfina to their 5th consecutive title.