The start of the 126th Abierto Argentino de Polo began at Palermo with La Ensenada defeating qualifier La Irenita 14-7 to open play in the final leg of the Triple Crown, followed by a strong performance from La Dolfina Polo Ranch in the 17-9 victory over La Aguada.
Fouls proved to be a big factor in both games of the day, beginning with 28 combined fouls in the opening game between La Ensenada and La Irenita. With La Ensenada outscoring La Irenita 6 to 4 from the penalty line, the large difference in the game was La Irenita’s inefficiency around goal, shooting just 23% from the field in the loss. Despite the constant whistles, La Ensenada found their stride on offense with a balanced attack that saw contributions from all 4 players in the seven-goal victory.
A back and forth opening chukka left the teams deadlocked at 1-1 in end-to-end action, but the pace of the game beginning with the second chukka. After trading penalty 2 goals, La Ensenada took the lead behind the efforts of Juan Martin Zubia, who also added a field goal to give his team the 4-2 lead. Foul trouble limited La Irenita’s chances for the remainder of the half, holding them to just one goal over the third and fourth chukkas, while the possession remained with La Ensenada. Despite missing five of their final six shots in the half, La Ensenada maintained their two-goal lead over La Irenita.
A fifth chukka was ultimately a decisive chukka in the game, as Zubia converted three penalty attempts as part of a four-goal chukka for La Ensenada, that was also highlighted by them dominating possession winning the throw-ins after each goal. Facing a five-goal deficit, La Irenita’s Diego Araya responded with two penalty conversions of his own, but that was the last offense La Irenita was able to generate in the game, going scoreless in the final two chukkas. La Ensenada secured the victory in the eighth chukka behind a goal each from Zubia, Facundo Fernandez Llorente and Jeronimo del Carril to complete the 14-7 victory.
A tense second game between La Aguada and La Dolfina Polo Ranch featured five yellow cards amongst 30 fouls in what turned into a foul-ridden affair. The outcome of the game was sent to the penalty line where the duo of Diego Cavanagh and Juan Britos converted 10 of 12 attempts, giving them a significant advantage in the game. Despite La Aguada’s Alejandro Novillo Astrada scoring five penalty goals of his own, La Aguada was unable to match the offense of La Dolfina Polo Ranch in the 17-9 defeat.
Opening the game with three consecutive goals, La Dolfina Polo Ranch took early control with a goal each from Cavanagh, Britos and Guillermo Terrera. La Aguada quickly answered with a three-goal run of their own to restore a tie at 3-3, in a balanced game that saw the first six goals scored by six different players. The game remained tied in the opening half, trading three penalty goals each in a physical game that had multiple collisions. The fourth chukka resulted in a flurry of yellow cards, highlighted by two yellow cards to Cavanagh, as well as one to Lucas Diaz Alberdi. Scoring four penalty goals each, La Dolfina Polo Ranch and La Aguada finished the first half tied at 7-7.
Foul trouble caught up with La Aguada to begin the second half, sending La Dolfina Polo Ranch to the penalty line seven times over the fifth, sixth and seventh chukkas, leaving La Aguada little hope in keeping pace on the scoreboard. Cavanagh and Britos converted six of the seven attempts during the stretch, while La Aguada was constantly kept in their own half and were held scoreless to give La Dolfina Polo Ranch the commanding seven-goal lead. The frustration boiled over for La Aguada with two more yellow cards awarded to Ignacio and Alejandro Novillo Astrada, while La Dolfina Polo Ranch’s improved discipline secured the victory. Cavanagh’s eighth goal of the game in the final chukka completed the convincing 17-9 win at Palermo.