Las Monjitas Stun Ellerstina to Reach Argentine Open Final
The highly anticipated second semi-final in the 2018 Abierto Argentino de Polo saw polo at its finest, with a dramatic match producing a historic result as Las Monjitas defeated 40-goal Ellerstina 18-16 to reach the final to face off against La Dolfina for the coveted title. Earlier in the day, Cria Yatay claimed the 13-12 victory over La Albertina in the final minutes of the game at Palermo.
An offensive masterclass from both teams saw numerous impressive goals on an array of neck shots and goals from distance as Ellerstina and Las Monjitas battled back and forth throughout the game. Sapo Caset led the game with 10-goals, scoring five goals during a run to begin the second half, but as the game tightened up during the tense final chukkas, it was Las Monjitas’ defence anchored by the efforts of Hilario Ulloa and Santiago Toccalino that made the difference. With both teams evenly matched in their accuracy from the field and penalty line, it was the additional offensive opportunities for Las Monjita, holding Ellerstina to just four shots over the final three chukkas to claim the upset.
Caset scored from distance inside the first minute of the game but was quickly answered by a penalty 3 conversion for Facundo Pieres as the two 10-goalers went stride for stride to pace their respective team’s offence. After Caset added two more goals, Ellerstina finished the opening chukka with three consecutive goals using long accurate passes to break away for runs, holding a narrow 4-3 lead. Ellerstina pushed their consecutive goal stretch to five after Facundo Pieres added a goal from 80 yards out giving his team a three-goal advantage. As was the case throughout the game, Las Monjitas responded, finishing the half on an 8-4 run with Hilario Ulloa leading the attack in one of his best performances to date. Scoring three goals while setting up two others, Ulloa pushed Las Monjitas back into the lead as they held the 11-10 lead at halftime.
After Ellerstina and Las Monjitas traded two goals each, Caset made his mark in the game during a stretch of five unanswered Las Monjitas goals, converting all three penalty attempts to his total and give Las Monjitas their largest lead at 16-13. With Ellerstina looking to charge back in the game, the rain poured down, slowing the pace of play and playing in Las Monjitas’ favour as a scoreless seventh chukka kept Las Monjitas holding a three-goal advantage. Ulloa stretched the lead to four, but in the blink of an eye, Ellerstina stormed back with three goals in one minute to pull within one. The intense pressure was quickly remedied when Facundo Sola found the goal, sealing the thrilling 18-16 victory and sending Las Monjitas into next weekend’s final against La Dolfina.
Earlier in the day, Cria Yatay narrowly edged La Albertina in an evenly matched affair that saw the game tied at nine different points in the game. Cria Yatay overcame a stagnant offence that shot just 2 for 7 from the field over the opening five chukkas, converting six of their final seven shot attempts. Joaquin Pittaluga was a standout player for Cria Yatay, finishing with seven goals, including the game winning goal with just three minutes left to lead his team to victory.
La Albertina had the opportunity in the opening chukka to take the lead, but two missed penalty attempts kept the score tied at 1-1. The defensive battle saw a flurry of backhands in the middle of the field, with neither team able to build a consistent attack. With both teams scoring one goal in each of the first three chukkas, it was Cria Yatay that finally took the lead in the fourth chukka with two penalty 2 conversions from Ignacio Laprida giving his team the 5-4 advantage on the scoreboard.
A clean second half saw a combined five fouls from the two teams, leaving the result to open play, where both teams proved to be more efficient than the first half. Francisco Elizalde led the La Albertina attack, scoring three goals over the sixth and seventh chukkas, but his offence was matched by Pittaluga, who scored all seven of his goals in the second half. Back-to-back goals for Pittaluga to close out the seventh chukka gave Cria Yatay the two-goal advantage, but Alfredo Cappella responded with two goals of his own to restore the tie. Pittaluga was too much for La Albertina to defend against as he broke free again to score the game winning goal to give his team the exciting 13-12 victory.