Ellerstina Defeats La Dolfina to Claim Hurlingham Open Title
The highly anticipated rematch between Ellerstina and La Dolfina saw the two 40-goal teams collide in the finals once again with Ellerstina using an exceptional second half to come back and claim the thrilling 12-11 victory and the Hurlingham Open title in front of a full crowd at Hurlingham Polo Club.
A game of two halves saw La Dolfina dominate the possession battle, led by the efficient passing attack of Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero. Overwhelming teams in the tournament with a high-pressure offence, La Dolfina used their ability to receive penalty attempts to build a lead with four of their seven goals in the first half coming from the line. Ellerstina’s defence kept them in the game, forcing shots from distance for a La Dolfina team that shot just 25% from the field in the game. The fifth and sixth chukkas were crucial in the outcome of the game as Ellerstina improved their discipline and utilised an efficient passing attack of their own to mount their comeback. Polito Pieres was a threat to score every time he touched the ball in the second half and led an Ellerstina attack that shot an accurate 5 for 7 from the field and perfect 3 for 3 from the penalty line over the final four chukkas to complete the exciting victory and claim the Hurlingham Open victory.
In the opening two chukkas of the game, La Dolfina displayed the style of play that has proved to be dominant during their run through the Triple Crown, forcing Ellerstina into five fouls resulting in extra possessions and two goals from the field. Three consecutive goals from Adolfo Cambiaso opened up a 4-1 lead, while Ellerstina missed their first four shots from the field to find themselves in the early three-goal deficit. High-pressure defence from both teams saw numerous hooks, steals and ride-offs, with neither team able to generate a consistent attack from the field. The remainder of the first half saw Ellerstina and La Dolfina both score two goals from the penalty line and one from the field, with La Dolfina holding the 7-4 lead at halftime. Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres were leading their respective sides with four and three goals respectively, but 10 first half fouls from Ellerstina kept them from closing the gap before the beginning of the second half.
The second half saw Ellerstina continue to display a strong team defence that created difficult scoring opportunities for La Dolfina, with the result being zero field goals on five shot attempts over the fifth and sixth chukkas. Improving their discipline, Ellerstina mounted a comeback behind effective backhands and a fast-paced passing attack that saw Polito Pieres break away for multiple runs to goal as part of an impressive stretch of seven consecutive goals for Ellerstina. Turning a 7-4 deficit into a 9-7 lead, Ellerstina held the potent La Dolfina offence off the scoresheet in the fifth and sixth chukkas to grab control of the game. An eventful seventh chukka brought drama to the game as Adolfo Cambiaso was sent off with his second yellow card, providing an opening for Ellerstina to extend their lead. After Ellerstina scored on the ensuing penalty attempt, Pablo MacDonough scored from distance with the three-man La Dolfina side performing admirably in the absence of Cambiaso. Before the chukka was over, Ellerstina’s Nico Pieres received his second yellow card, leaving both teams with three players on the field during the tense moments of the match. As Cambiaso returned, La Dolfina converted a penalty 2 to reduce Ellerstina’s lead to one. With just minutes remaining, Nico Pieres made up for his time off, scoring a crucial goal on an impressive neck-shot that would prove to be too much for La Dolfina to overcome as Ellerstina held on for the thrilling 12-11 victory.