A cloudy Sunday morning awaited the penultimate matchday of the 127 Argentine Open, at Palermo. The day started with the match between Los Machitos and Cria GT on ground 2, with Mariano Aguerre’s team in need of a victory to remain among the eight teams who qualify for the 2021 Triple Crown. Los Machitos reached half time with a 5-3 lead. Until then, the match featured just a few goals, with Mariano’s lineup taking off in the third chukka, outscoring Cria GT 4-1, with four unanswered goals by the Toccalino brothers Santi (3) and Cubi (1). Joaquin Pittaluga scored for Cria GT in the last seconds.
In the second part of the match, Cria GT made a comeback, mostly through the Laprida brothers’ goals (Iñaki and Magoo). Magoo became Cria GT’s crucial man who took his team to a 6-all with only one chukka remaining. And what a last chukka! Following two goals by Iñaki Laprida, and with only 10 seconds in regulation time, Cubi Toccalino scored to tie at 8-all. So, extra chukka, here we go. It was Magoo Laprida’s once again who produced a fantastic shot, that earned Cria GT a 9-8 win. As a result, Los Machitos qualified to the 2021 Triple Crown and Cria GT will go try to remain among the eight teams after playing a playoff with the winner of the Copa Cámara de Diputados (Brava vs. Indios Chapaleufu II). Unfortunately, the two La Irenita teams weren’t able to qualify.
Later in the afternoon, it was time for the second semifinal of the Open. The undefeated Ellerstina met La Dolfina Polo Ranch. Perhaps, many remember a previous clash between the two of them, back in 2017; it was a tough contest, that ended up with Ellerstina struggling to win by a narrow 12-11, on a rainy afternoon. Could it be possible to repeat that? At least, it’s what exactly happened in the first half. La Dolfina Polo Ranch was not that easy for this unbeaten 2020 version of Ellerstina, who had to fight hard against a very talented foursome, who were very accurate both in defense and attack, very precise with their stick-and-ball, very quick to reply to every goal produced by Ellerstina. La Dolfina Polo Ranch even managed to hold Ellerstina scoreless in the fourth chukka, and with goals by Juano Britos and Diego Cavanagh they reached a 7-4 at half time. Would Ellerstina be able to change history in the second part?
Not at all in the fifth chukka; Ellerstina spent another chukker without scoring, while Guille Terrera and Juano Britos widened La Dolfina Polo Ranch’s advantage to 9-6. It was not until the first minutes within the sixth chukka that Gonzalito Pieres put the ball between the goalposts. Ellerstina made a comeback in the seventh chukka, and outscored La Dolfina Polo Ranch 5-0. With one chukka remaining, they re-gained the lead, 12-10, to keep their hopes alive and many people thought the contest was over. Within the first minutes in the last chukka, La Dolfina Polo Ranch scored three unanswered goals by Diego Cavanagh and Guillermo Terrera (2) to get back on the lead. To add more drama, a foul was awarded to Ellerstina with one minute remaining, to tie at 13-all. And with only 30 seconds in regulation time, Facundo Pieres missed the opportunity to seal the deal. The match went to extra chukka.
A brilliant play by Diego Cavanagh was about for La Dolfina Polo Ranch to make it, but unfortunately it went wide. So, Nico Pieres came in, picked the ball, and together with Open Guillermina, they run as fast as they could to the goalposts and scored the dramatic winning goal that put them in the final of the Argentine Open. As a conclusion, and after a brilliant Triple Crown, Ellerstina had a very tough time against a powerful La Dolfina Polo Ranch foursome. They were unable to play as well as they’ve done until now; perhaps, it can be said that this league decider was their weakest match of the season, but in one way or another, they managed to be in the champioship game once again.
CRIA GT 9-8 LOS MACHITOS
Cría GT: Valerio Zubiaurre 8, Cristian Laprida 8 (4 goals), Joaquín Pittaluga 8 (1), Ignacio Laprida 8 (4 penalties). Total: 32.
Los Machitos: Agustín Merlos 8, Ignacio Toccalino 8 (2), Mariano Aguerre 7 y Santiago Toccalino 8 (6, four penalties). Total: 31.
Score Cría GT: 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 3-5, 4-6, 5-6, 6-6, 8-8, 9-8.
Umpires: Matías Baibiene andGonzalo López Vargas. Third Man: Federico Martelli.
BPP Polo Argentino:
Machitos Jazzita (Sportivo x Machitos Jazz). Player: Mariano Aguerre.
Machitos Charita (Sportivo x Machitos Mechera). Player: Mariano Aguerre.
Machitos Valencia (Open El Padrino x Los Machitos Versuit). Player: Mariano Aguerre.
ELLERSTINA 14-13 LA DOLFINA POLO RANCH (EXTRA CHUKKA)
Ellerstina: Facundo Pieres 10 (7 goals, three penalties), Hilario Ulloa 10 (3), Gonzalo Pieres 9 (1), Nicolás Pieres 10 (3). Total: 39.
La Dolfina Polo Ranch: Guillermo Terrera 8 (4 goals), Juan Britos 8 (3, two penalties), Diego Cavanagh 9 (5, two penalties), Alejo Taranco 8 (1). Total: 33.
Score Ellerstina Johor: 2-1, 3-4, 5-5, 5-7, 5-9, 7-10, 12-10, 13-13, 14-13.
BPP Polo Argentino:
Open Guillermina (Optimun x Open Geisha). Player: Nicolás Pieres.
Dolfina C06 Lapa – Clon 6 (Founder Dolfina Lapa, Monarch x El Sol). Player: Diego Cavanagh.
Mas Acquadance (Machitos Melchor x Machitos Lantana). Player: Diego Cavanagh.