Scone and Park Place Advance to Cartier Queen’s Cup Final
The much-anticipated semi-finals of the 2019 Cartier Queen’s Cup featured two exciting games at Guards Polo Club, with Scone defeating VS King Power 7-5 on the Duke’s Ground, while Park Place upset defending champions La Indiana 10-7 on the Queen’s Ground to advance to Sunday’s final.
The opening semi-final produced end-to-end action with both teams placing 20 shots on goal, yet the inaccuracy from Scone and VS King Power, who shot 29% and 15% respectively from the field kept it a low-scoring affair. Few fouls were committed in the game, resulting in a fast pace but bouncing balls in front of goal led to missed opportunities for VS King Power in the narrow loss. In the early stages of the game, VS King Power held the possession advantage, keeping Scone pinned in their own half, but converted just one of their five shot attempts to remain tied at 1-1 at the end of the first chukka. Scone inched into the lead after a James Harper field goal, while taking advantage of VS King Power’s only foul in the opening half on a Nico Pieres penalty conversion to give Scone the 3-1 advantage. Having their opportunities at goal, VS King Power failed to find the mark as they were held scoreless in the second and third chukka, searching for offense to begin the second half.
The back and forth action continued into the fourth chukka as Scone generated seven shots at goal, but had accuracy issues of their own, scoring just one goal that was matched on a Penalty 3 conversion from Polito Pieres. With a spot in the final on the line, play tightened over the final two chukkas, which proved to favour Scone, who was led by Nico Pieres and James Harper on both sides of the ball. Consecutive field goals gave Scone the commanding 6-2 lead, but before the end of the chukka, Juan Martin Zubia found Top Srivaddhanaprabha on a pass to goal to bring the deficit back to three. VS King Power looked to continuing driving downfield in the final chukka as Scone was pressured defensively, but ultimately it was VS King Power’s inaccuracy in converting just 3 of their 20 shot attempts, along with uncompleted runs to goal that led to the defeat, with Scone claiming their fourth straight victory to advance to the Cartier Queen’s Cup final.
All eyes turned to the second semi-final and La Indiana’s undefeated run through the tournament, with Park Place striving to hand the defending tournament champions their first loss. A closely matched game came down to Park Place converting their opportunities on offense, but more importantly it was their ability to stand strong inside their 60-yard line, causing turnovers and preventing shot attempts when La Indiana had possession in front of their goal. Swarming Facundo Pieres throughout the game, Park Place held the 10-goaler to just three goals, 6.5 goals fewer than his average entering the game. La Indiana’s attack began from the opening throw-in, keeping Park Place pinned in their own half, but an inspired defensive effort kept La Indiana from any easy runs to goal. A Penalty 2 conversion for Benjamin Urquiza matched Rodrigo Andrade’s field goal, while an uncharacteristic miss in front of goal for Pieres left the score tied at 1-1. Both teams began to generate attacks from throw-ins, leading to open runs to goal, but the game shifted in the third chukka behind the performance of Hilario Ulloa. In a near flawless chukka, Ulloa scored three goals in quick succession, while hitting a perfect pass over 100 yards onto the mallet of Andrey Borodin for Park Place’s fourth goal of the chukka, leaving La Indiana stunned as they trailed 7-3 at halftime.
Continuing to thwart the La Indiana attack, Park Place was consistently put under immense pressure inside their 60-yard line but held off La Indiana, conceding just one field goal over the fourth and fifth chukkas. La Indiana’s Facundo Pieres received two penalty attempts over that span as the physical play resulted in an increased foul count, with Pieres converting both attempts to keep La Indiana in the game, trailing by two entering the final chukka. A goal from Andrade brought La Indiana within one, as they continued to drive downfield. In what proved to be the play of the game, Urquiza saved the ball of the goal line with Juan Britos picking up the loose ball and running the length of the field to push Park Place’s lead to three and secure the victory in the thrilling 10-8 win, setting up the Cartier Queen’s Cup final against Scone.