Overcoming injuries early in the season and a loss to RS Murus Sanctus at Palermo, La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team entered the final of the 127th Abierto Argentino de Polo against undefeated Ellerstina, with their sights set on an eighth consecutive title. Steps away from capturing the Triple Crown, Ellerstina held the lead into the final minutes on Field 1, but a dominant final chukka from La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team pushed them to the exhilarating 10-8 victory on the iconic field 1 at Palermo.
Ellerstina and La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team generated their offense in different ways throughout the final in what emerged as the storyline. La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team received 12 penalty attempts, converting seven, while Ellerstina received just one Penalty 4 attempt that sailed wide off the mallet of Facundo Pieres. With the large discrepancy from the penalty line, Ellerstina controlled open play, outscoring La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team 8-3 from the field, and holding the normally potent La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team to just 15% shooting on 20 shot attempts. The two leading scorers in Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres finished with six goals each, but the outcome was decided in the final minutes as La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team scored the final three goals to capture the 10-8 victory.
Receiving a penalty 4 in the opening seconds, Cambiaso converted from the 60-yard line to give La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team the early 1-0 lead. A quick response from Facundo Pieres on the following play restored the tie, setting the tone for the game as neither team would be given an inch. Hilario Ulloa found Facundo Pieres with a pass for his second goal, but the game turned to the penalty line resulting in La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team taking control. Scoring four penalty goals over the second and third chukkas, Ellerstina could not hold enough possession to match the penalty shooting of Cambiaso and Pablo MacDonough, facing a three-goal deficit. Keeping La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team off the penalty line towards the end of the first half, Ellerstina pulled within one goal after back-to-back goals from Facundo Pieres left the score at 6-5.
The defensive intensity increased on both sides of the ball at the beginning of the second half producing a scoreless fifth chukka and just one field goal from Ulloa that tied the score at 6-6. Inaccurate shooting from the field continued to force La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team to generate their offense from the penalty line, where they reclaimed the lead on a Penalty 3 from MacDonough. With two chukkas standing in the way of Ellerstina’s undefeated season and the Triple Crown, Gonzalito Pieres scored his only goal while adding an assist in the crucial moments of the seventh chukka to leave Ellerstina holding the 8-7 lead. The resiliency of La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team was evident in what was a dominant final chukka for the 40-goal side. Juan Martin Nero’s field goal, his team’s first since the second chukka, tied the game at 8-8 and quickly followed by MacDonough’s third penalty conversion. With two minutes remaining, Cambiaso broke in behind the Ellerstina defence to extend the advantage to 10-8. Withstanding the late push from Ellerstina, La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team saw time expire as the celebrations began for their eighth consecutive title in the Abierto Argentino de Polo.
Photo credit: Matías Callejo / Prensa AAP
To see the highlights of the best plays of the game, click HERE , where you can download a video from ESPN.
After the speech of Eduardo Novillo Astrada (h) , president of the AAP, the award ceremony began, in which the champions and finalists had to pick up themselves, their trophies and replicas due to the strict Covid 19 protocols, accompanied by the aforementioned Novillo Astrada; Delfín Uranga , vice president of the AAP; Carlos Menéndez Behety, Sebastián Pistone, Gonzalo Delger, Juan Lastra and Rafael Cúneo Libarona, Directors of the mother entity of Argentine polo; Juan Marotta , CEO of HSBC Argentina; Ing. Daniel Pellegrina , president of Soc. Rural Arg .; Santiago Ballester , head of the AACCP; Andres Rosenberg, President of Fomento Equino; “Taio” Novillo Astrada; Marcos Heguy ; Rosario Sola ; Esperanza Uranga ; and Marcos Aldao , Operations Manager of the AAP.
The individual awards were as follows:
Gonzalo Heguy Trophy for the best player of the final: Adolfo Cambiaso (h)
Javier Novillo Astrada award to the championship scorer: Adolfo Cambiaso (h), 45 goals
Rubén Sola Revelation Trophy: Jerónimo del Carril
Equine Promotion Cup for the best ridden player in the final: Adolfo Cambiaso (h)
Gonzalo Tanoira Award for the best mounted polo player of the contest: Adolfo Cambiaso (h)
Fair Play Award to the most disciplined player of the tournament: David Stirling (h).
Lady Susan Townley Cup for the best horse player in the final: Dolfina B09 Cuartetera Clon , from AC.
Argentine Association of Polo Horse Breeders Award for the Best Product Registered Player Argentine Polo Race and Argentine Rural Society Award: Dolfina B06 Cuartetera Clon , from AC.
In addition, Adolfito Cambiaso , who collected the prizes, received special recognition for having been the first polo player to overcome the 1000-goal barrier at the Palermo Open – he reached 1026 -.
Classified to TC 2021: La Dolfina Saudi PT 1352; Ellerstina Johor 1324; RS Murus Sanctus 840; La Natividad Monjitas 808; LD Polo Ranch 616; La Ensenada La Aguada 548; and Los Machitos 560.
Repechage: Cría Geté , 356 and -13 goal difference.
They lost their position: La Irenita 356 and -18 diff. the Gol; and La Irenita II 144.
The remaining teams that participated:
The Nativity Nuns: Camilo Castagnola 8, Pablo Pieres 10, Bartolomé Castagnola (h) 9 and Ignatius Du Plessis 9. Total: 36.
RS Murus Sanctus: Facundo Sola 9, Francisco Elizalde 8, Guillermo Caset (h) 10 and Alfredo Cappella Barabucci 8. Total: 35.
La Dolfina Polo Ranch: Guillermo Terrera (h) 8, Juan Britos (h) 8, Diego Cavanagh 9 and Alejo Taranco 8. Total: 33.
Cría Geté: Valerio Zubiaurre (h) 8, Cristian Laprida (h) 8, Joaquín Pittaluga 8 and Ignacio Laprida 8. Total: 32.
Los Machitos: Agustín Merlos 8, Ignacio Toccalino 8, Mariano Aguerre 7 and Santiago Toccalino 8. Total: 31.
La Irenita: Martín Podestá (h) 7, Juan Martín Zavaleta (h) 8, Facundo Fernández Llorente 7 and Juan Martín Zubía 8. Total: 30.
La Ensenada-La Aguada: Segundo Bocchino 6, Alfredo Bigatti 8, Matías Torres Zavaleta 8 and Jerónimo Del Carril 7. Total: 29.
La Irenita II: Santiago Loza 7, Tomás Fernández Llorente (h) 7, Juan Ruiz Guiñazú (h) 8 and Pedro Falabella (h) 7. Total: 29.