By Alex Webbe
A shuffled La Indiana lineup (Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan, Agustin Merlos and Luke Tomlinson) that had Pite Merlos replacing younger brother Agustin “Tincho” Merlos, came up short in British Open quarterfinal action against Sommelier (George Hanbury, Juan Gris Zavaleta, Fred Mannix and Alec White) Saturday afternoon at Cowdray Park Polo Club.
La Indiana had been cruising through the competition with the combination of Tincho Merlos and Nic Roldan providing much of the firepower until an injury sidelined Tincho Merlos. He was replaced by his talented and capable older brother, but the chemistry wasn’t the same.
Sommelier wasted little time in going after the altered La Indiana foursome, with Juan Zavaleta and Alec White scoring the first two goals of the game, 2-0. Nic Roldan countered with a goal for La Indiana but a closing penalty goal from Fred Mannix had Sommelier leaving the field at the end of the first chukker with a 3-1 lead.
Sommelier continued their attack into the second period. Consecutive goals from White and Zavaleta extended the lead to four goals, 5-1. Pite Merlos and Luke Tomlinson responded with single goals, cutting the Sommelier lead back to two goals, 5-3. Mannix converted a 40-yard penalty shot, 6-3, with Tomlinson scoring the final goal of the chukker. Sommelier continued to lead by two goals, 6-4.
A determined La Indiana effort in the third saw Tomlinson open the scoring with a 30-yard penalty conversion and follow it up with a goal from the field that tied the game at 6-6. Roldan’s second goal of the day gave La Indiana their first lead of the day, 7-6. Sommelier scored the final three goals of the first half, however, with Mannix adding two goals and Zavaleta scoring once. After three periods of play, it was Sommelier with the 9-7 advantage.
La Indiana couldn’t get t going offensively in the fifth and Sommelier took advantage of the shortfall. Goals from Zavaleta and White went unanswered as Sommelier extended their lead to four goals, 11-7.
Mannix kicked of the fifth period with his fifth goal of the day, 12-7. Merlos scored a goal from the field for La Indiana followed by a 60-yard penalty goal from Tomlinson, 12-9. Mannix converted another 40-yard penalty shot for a goal for Sommelier, 13-9, with Michael Bickford scoring the final goal of the chukker to trail, 13-10.
Sixth chukker goals from Tomlinson and Melos had La Indiana within a goal of the lead, 13-12, when Sommelier took control of the game once again. Back-to-back goals from Zavaleta closed the door on last year’s British Open finalists as Sommelier rode off with the 15-12 victory.
Mannix and Zavaleta led the Sommelier attack with six goals apiece. White added three goals for the win. Tomlinson scored a team-high six goals for La Indiana. Merlos added three goals; Roldan scored twice and Bickford was credited with a goal in the loss.
El Remanso 12, Monterosso 9
The All-English El Remanso (Charlie Hanbury, Oliver Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper) entry gave up the opening goal to Monterosso (Alessandro Bazzoni, Ignacio Toccalino, Santiago Toccalino and Matt Perry) in the second Gold Cup match of the day, but never trailed again as they rode over Monterosso, 12-9, earning a spot in Wednesday’s 4pm semifinal against Sommelier.
Ignacio Toccalino scored the first goal of the match for Monterosso, who quickly fell behind on three consecutive goals from Charlie Hanbury and James Harper (2). The first chukker ended with El Remanso holding a 3-1 edge.
Santiago Toccalino cut into the El Remanso lead with the opening goal of the second period, 3-2, but El Remanso stormed back. A
pair of goals from Ollie Cudmore and Harper’s third goal of the afternoon gave El Remanso a commanding 6-2 advantage. Santiago Toccalino scored the final goal of the chukker as they trailed El Remanso, 6-3.
Harper converted a 30-yard penalty shot as third period action got underway. Ignacio Toccalino and Hanbury exchanged goals to end the first half with El Remanso riding an 8-4 led, at the midway point.
An aggressive Harper scored on a well-laced pass from James Beim to open second half action, 9-4. Monterosso patron Alessandro Bazzoni took a pass from the ensuing throw-in and raced down the field for a goal, 9-5. Cudmore scored the final goa of the chukker to make it 10-5, El Remanso.
The El Remanso attack continued to pound against the Monterosso defenders in the fifth. Goals from Cudmore and Harper were answered by a single goal from Santiago Toccalino, as El Remanso rode into the final chukker with a six-goal lead, 12-6.
There was no quit in Monterosso, but they were fighting against the clock and a six-goal deficit as the sixth period got underway. Santiago Toccalino scored the final three goals of the game (one on a 30-yard penalty shot) with El Remanso celebrating the 12-9 victory.
Harper scored six times for El Remanso. Cudmore added four goals and Hanbury was responsible for two goals for the win. Santiago Toccalino led the Monterosso offense with six goals (three on penalty conversions). Ignacio Toccalino scored twice and Bazzoni added a goal in the loss.
The last two British Open quarterfinals will be played on Sunday with RH Polo (Ben Soleimani, Tommy Beresford, Adolfo Cambiaso and Rodrigo Andrade) meeting Habtoor (Mohammed Al Habtoor, Nicolas Pieres, Francisco Elizalde and Paco O’Dwyer) in a noon encounter followed by a 3pm game between the 2016 defending British Open Champion, King Power (Top Srivaddhanaprabha, Jimbo Fewster, Gonzalito Pieres and Facundo Pieres) and Talandracas (Edouard Carmignac, Guillermo Caset, Pelon Stirling and Jack Hyde). The winners will play one another in Wednesday’s noon semifinal game.