The second day of quarterfinal play in the 2020 Hurlingham Open featured two dominant performances, beginning with Ellerstina, who won their fourth consecutive game to start the season by overwhelming La Irenita 22-6. Recovering from a tough Tortugas Open, La Natividad/Las Monjitas produced a strong showing in the 18-11 victory over La Dolfina Polo Ranch to reach the semi-finals.
Outscoring La Irenita 20-4 from the field, Ellerstina’s relentless pressure set the tone for the third quarterfinal. Intercepting a high percentage of La Irenita’s passes, Ellerstina kept the ball in the attacking half, generating 31 shots while also shooting an efficient 65%. Kept on the defensive for most of the game, La Irenita couldn’t keep pace with the lightning quick Ellerstina offense that was led by Facundo Pieres’ 10 goals in the 22-6 victory.
In arguably the most dominant chukka of the season so far, Ellerstina outshot La Irenita 9-0, converting five of those opportunities in the first seven minutes. A well-rounded team effort saw two goals each from Facundo Pieres and Ulloa, along with two assists from Nico Pieres leaving La Irenita facing a difficult task in slowing all four positions. A brief reprieve from the Ellerstina attack in the second chukka resulted in La Irenita maintaining the five-goal deficit, but it was short-lived as Ellerstina produced another 5-0 chukka in the third. Contributing on four of the five goals with two goals and two assists, Facundo Pieres drove the attack for Ellerstina, pushing their lead to 10. Consecutive goals for Juan Martin Zubia ended the half on a high-note for La Irenita, but they faced a nearly insurmountable nine-goal deficit with three chukkas remaining.
All hopes were abruptly dashed by the duo of Ulloa and Facundo Pieres as they combined for four goals, while Gonzalito and Nico Pieres effectively manned the back of the game, preventing any run from La Irenita. A goal and an assist from Facundo Pieres ended a six-goal unanswered run to begin the second half, all but securing the outcome. Zubia brought his goal total to four, providing the main source of La Irenita’s offense but they were unable to match the prowess of Ellerstina in the 22-6 defeat.
The highly anticipated fourth quarterfinal pitted 36-goal La Natividad/Las Monjitas against 33-goal La Dolfina Polo Ranch. A hard-fought first half saw little separate the two teams, but the efficiency of La Natividad/Las Monjitas from both the field and the penalty line proved to be the difference in the second half. Led by a season-high 12 goal performance from Camilo Castagnola, La Natividad/Las Monjitas converted 6 of their 7 penalty attempts to finish the game with flurry of goals, outscoring La Dolfina Polo Ranch 11-5 over the final three chukkas to capture the victory.
After conceding a penalty to Camilo Castagnola in the opening moments, La Dolfina Polo Ranch looked to make a statement in the first chukka, dominating possession to produce five shots at goal, but inaccurate shooting kept the score tied at 1-1. Heavily outshooting La Natividad/Las Monjitas for the second consecutive chukka, La Dolfina Polo Ranch took their first lead on goals from Guillermo Terrera and Juan Britos but led by just one as La Natividad/Las Monjitas survived the early pressure. The momentum switched in the third chukka when La Natividad/Las Monjitas were able to start generating a consistent attack, resulting in one goal each from Polito Pieres, Camilo Castagnola and Ignatius Du Plessis as part of a three-goal chukka. Three yellow cards were handed out in a tense fourth chukka, resulting in the two teams trading penalty 3 conversions and La Natividad/Las Monjitas holding the slim 7-6 lead entering the second half.
A player to watch throughout the game, Camilo Castagnola set up Pieres to begin the second half and quickly followed with a goal of his own, extending La Natividad/Las Monjitas’ lead to three. Foul trouble in a crucial sixth chukka for La Dolfina Polo Ranch severely affected their chances, sending Camilo Castagnola to the penalty line where he converted 2 of his 3 attempts to give his team a commanding four-goal advantage entering the final chukka. A high-scoring chukka was needed for La Dolfina Polo Ranch, but a run of five straight goals for La Natividad/Las Monjitas secured the 18-11 victory and a match-up against Ellerstina.
Teams and progression:
La Natividad-Las Monjitas: Camilo Castagnola 8 (12 goals, six from penalties), Pablo Pieres 10 (3), Bartolomé Castagnola (h) 9 (1) (He received a yellow card in the fourth chukker) and Ignatius Du Plessis 9 ( 2). Total: 36.
La Dolfina Polo Ranch: Guillermo Terrera (h) 8 (4) (He received a yellow card in the fourth chukker), Juan Britos (h) 8 (2), Diego Cavanagh 9 (2 penalties) (He received a yellow card in the fourth chukker) and Alejo Taranco 8 (3). Total: 33.
La Natividad-Las Monjitas: 1-1, 2-3, 5-4, 7-6, 10-8, 13-9 and 18-11.
Judges: Guillermo Villanueva (h) and Martín Pascual. Referee: Martín Aguerre.
Photo credit: Sergio Llamera / Prensa AAP
The Open semifinalists:
La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team: Adolfo Cambiaso (h) 10, Adolfo Cambiaso (n) 6, Pablo Mac Donough 10 and Ignacio Laprida 8. Total: 34.
RS Murus Sanctus: Facundo Sola 9, Francisco Elizalde 8, Guillermo Caset (h) 10 and Alfredo Cappella Barabucci 8. Total: 35.
Ellerstina Johor: Facundo Pieres 10, Hilario Ulloa 10, Gonzalo Pieres (h) 9 and Nicolás Pieres 10. Total: 39.
Los Machitos: Agustín Merlos 8, Ignacio Toccalino 8, Tomás García del Río 7 and Santiago Toccalino 8. Total: 31.
La Ensenada-La Aguada: Segundo Bocchino 6, Alfredo Bigatti 8, Matías Torres Zavaleta 8 and Jerónimo Del Carril 7. Total: 29.
La Irenita: Martín Podestá (h) 7, Juan Martín Zavaleta (h) 8, Facundo Fernández Llorente 7 and Juan Martín Zubía 8. Total: 30.
This contest is the second link in the 2020 Triple Crown organized by the Argentine Polo Association, which will end with the 127th HSBC Argentine Polo Open.