Las Monjitas Meets Crab Orchard in the 2008 US Open Finals
By Alex Webbe
Seven goals by Nacho Astrada helped power Las Monjitas past a stubborn White Birch team Wednesday afternoon as it notched a 12-11 win, its seventh consecutive 26-goal victory, and earned itself a berth in the finals of the 2008 US Open at the International Polo Club in Wellington.
Las Monjitas jumped out to an early 4-2 on the strength of three goals from Nacho Astrada, but White Birch fought back in the second period. Hard riding and physical play resulted in Eduardo Astrada suffering a severely split lip in the chukker. When the paramedics were finally able to stop the bleeding, the game player returned to the field. Three penalty goals from Lucas Monteverde were answered by penalty goals from Javier Astrada and Nacho Astrada, but the lead was cut to a single goal, 6-5.
The defenses on both sides tightened in the third chukker. With Eduardo bouncing back with a single. Peter Brant responded with a neck shot for a gaol for White Birch, but it would be Las Monjitas riding off the field with a narrow 7-6 lead at halftime.
Charging back in the fourth chukker both teams attempted to mount offense charges, but it would be the Las Monjitas defense that would make its mark. While Las Monjitas missed several scoring opportunities, its defensive efforts kept the team in the White Birch end of the field for the majority of the period. So resolute was the Las Monjitas defense that White Birch only crossed the centerline into the Las Monjitas end of the field on one occasion. Eduardo Astrada scored a single goal for Las Monjitas for a two goal, 8-6 lead while the White Birch offense was shut out.
“We were very conscious of the fourth chukker,” said Las Monjitas team captain Camilo Bautista. In spite of the number of missed goals Bautista said they were determined to continue attacking the White Birch goal.
“We kept pushing,” he offered, “we knew we had to continue to pressure them if we were going to win.”
The scoring went back and forth in the fifth chukker with each team scoring three goals. Nacho Astrada added a penalty goal and a goal from the field to four earlier scores while brother Eduardo Astrada added a single goal. Lucas Monteverde converted two penalty goals for white Birch with Martin Aguerre scoring once from the field, and the chukker ended with Las Monjitas ahead 11-9.
Monteverde converted a penalty shot in the sixth chukker to pull White Birch to within a goal, 11-10, but Nacho Astrada answered with a penalty conversion of his own to reestablish a two goal, 12-10 edge.
Monteverde’s seventh goal of the match, a penalty shot, ended the scoring, and Las Monjitas celebrated a 12-11 win and a berth in Sunday’s finals.
“It’s been a fantastic year,” said Bautista. “It will be our third final of the season,” he added.
Nacho Astrada led Las Monjitas with seven goals. Eduardo Astrada came back from an injury in the second chukker to score three goals and Javier Astrada scored twice for the win.
Lucas Monteverde converted seven penalty shots for White Birch. Martin Aguerre scored twice and Mariano Aguerre and Peter Brant scored single goals in the loss.
CRAB ORCHARD 12, PONY EXPRESS 11
In the earlier semifinal match, Crab Orchard moved closer to defending its 2007 US Open Championship by scoring a 12-11 win over a spirited Pony Express team.
All four members of the 2007 Crab Orchard Open team were on the field for the contest, but two of them-Matias Magrini and Pelon Sterling-were now playing for Pony Express.
Sterling scored the first goal of the game for Pony Express but was quickly answered by a goal from Crab Orchard’s Nachi Heguy.
Ten-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso scored to give Crab Orchard the lead, a lead they would never surrender. Jeff Blake extended the Crab Orchard lead to 3-1 before a second goal from Sterling ended the chukker with Pony Express trailing 3-2.
Goals were hard to come by in the second period, with Cambiaso accounting for the only goal to put Crab Orchard on top, 4-2.
Cambiaso and company got the offense on track as the third period began. Goals from Heguy (two penalty conversion) and another goal from Cambiaso gave Crab Orchard seven goals, while single goals from Magrini and Nick Roldan had Pony Express trailing 7-4 at the half.
Magrini converted a penalty goal to open the fourth chukker, but Heguy did the same, and Crab Orchard held on to a three goal lead, 8-5. In the closing seconds of the fourth period, Sterling managed to drive through the Crab Orchard defense for a goal. Pony Express was alive, but trailed 11-9.
Cambiaso’s sixth goal of the game made it 12-9, but Pony Express rallied to score the last two goal of the game, falling 12-11 to the defending US Open Champion.
“It will be a great final” said Crab Orchard team captain George Rawlings, “now the big one,” he added, referring to Sunday’s championship match.
Crab Orchard’s Adolfo Cambiaso led all scoring with six goals. Teammate Nachi Heguy added five goals (four on penalty shots), and Jeff Blake scored once for the win.
Pelon Sterling’s five goals paced the Pony Express attack. Matial Magrini scored four times and Nick Roldan added two goals in a losing effort.
The win propels Crab Orchard into Sunday’s 3pm finals against Las Monjitas for the 2008 US Open Championship.