Alegria vs Ellerstina
In the thrilling final of the 2017 Hurlingham Open, Ellerstina overcame the loss of Facundo Pieres to defend their title with a 16-14 victory over Alegria at Hurlingham Polo Club.
In a tight, foul ridden game, Ellerstina fell behind early as they had difficulty slowing the Alegria attack, committing seven fouls in the opening two chukkas. A strong second half for Ellerstina was fuelled by an 11-goal performance by Polito Pieres, providing the offensive firepower after Facundo Pieres went down with an injury in the 5th chukka. Despite conceding four penalty goals in the second half, Ellerstina adjusted their defence, holding Alegria to 1 for 5 shooting from the field. The adjustment also resulted in more offensive chances for Ellerstina as they finished shooting 6 for 15 en route to the Hurlingham Open title.
Sapo Caset, the leading goal scorer of the tournament, opened the scoring for Alegria in the first chukka, as they looked to upset their second straight opponent after defeating La Dolfina in their previous game. Ellerstina answered to finish the chukka with Polito Pieres running the ball through the goal. The second chukka was stop and start with a combined seven fouls, but with only one penalty 4 conversion for Sapo Caset, it was four goals from the field, one from each player that led to Alegria gaining a 6-2 lead, after the first two chukkas.
Ellerstina displayed their potent offence in the 3rd chukka, reducing the deficit from four to one, highlighted by Facundo Pieres’ goal from 100 yards out. Before Ellerstina could tie the score, Alegria’s Fred Mannix finished off the chukka with a nearside belly shot that snuck inside the post to restore a two goal lead. Alegria had another upset in their sights as Caset added his 4th and 5thgoals of the game to give his team a three goal advantage heading into halftime.
Trailing 9-8, the game was put on hold after a hard fall from Facundo Pieres left the players and spectators holding their breath. Unable to return, Facundo was replaced by 7-goaler Lucas James, who filled in admirably throughout the second half. In Facundo’s absence, Polito Pieres created the offense for Ellerstina, scoring five straight goals, turning a three goal deficit into a two goal lead. With James and Gonzalito stepping up defensively, Ellerstina held Alegria to five goals in the second half, while using a balanced offense themselves, with all four players adding at least one goal each. Scoring three goals in the fifth, sixth and seventh chukkas, Polito Pieres converted a penalty 4 to end the 7th chukka, providing Ellerstina with a significant two goal advantage with time running out for Alegria.
Alegria pressed in the 8th chukka but was unable to produce the scoring chances necessary to reduce the deficit. Polito Pieres’ 11th goal of the game in the 8th chukka brought the score to 16-13, sealing the victory for Ellerstina as they ultimately celebrated the 16-14 victory to win the 2017 Hurlingham Open.