La Dolfina to Meet Ellerstina in Hurlingham Open Final
The final day of bracket play in the 2019 Hurlingham Open determined the last finalist in an exciting match between La Dolfina and Las Monjitas, with the former asserting their dominance in the final stages of the game to capture the 17-14 victory. La Ensenada narrowly defeated Cria Yatay 9-7 to open the day at Hurlingham Polo Club.
A close game between La Ensenada and Cria Yatay was decided from the field as La Ensenada outscored their opponents 4-1 in the final two chukkas in what had been a back and forth affair. Overcoming 1 for 5 shooting from the penalty line, La Ensenada shot an efficient 57% from the field behind seven combined goals from Juan Martin Zubia and Juan Martin Zavaleta in the victory.
La Ensenada grabbed the early 2-0 lead behind the duo, while Jeronimo del Carril was effective in the #4 position to limit the chances for Cria Yatay. With possession changing hands often, it was the ability to jump on loose balls that led to goals from Ignacio Laprida and Valerio Zubiaurre to reduce the deficit to one. With only six shots between the two teams for the remainder of the half, La Ensenada remained ahead by one at 5-4 in a low-scoring game that was primarily played in the centre of the field.
Capturing their first lead of the game, Cria Yatay came out strong in the second half, keeping La Ensenada off the scoreboard, while back-to-back goals from Joaquin Pittaluga gave his team the 6-5 advantage. With the match to be determined in the final two chukkas, La Ensenada stretched the field, using Facundo Fernandez Llorente in the #1 position to pressure Cria Yatay. The change created additional offensive opportunities for la Ensenada as they outshot Cria Yatay 7-3 to end the game, which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 advantage from the field as La Ensenada reclaimed the lead at completed the 9-7 victory for their first victory of the tournament.
The second game of the day resulted in a dramatic game that decided the finalist to join Ellerstina in the final. A foul-ridden affair produced 32 fouls, with the whistle constantly stopping play and leaving Juan Martin Nero and Sapo Caset to battle it out on the penalty line. Nero finished 9 for 10 from the penalty line while Caset was 10 for 12, yet it was La Dolfina’s additional opportunities from the field thanks to an accurate passing attack that led them to victory.
With the fouls the continual story of the game, Las Monjitas survived early indiscipline to keep pace with la Dolfina. Six fouls over the opening two chukkas resulted in two penalty goals for La Dolfina, but Caset and Hilario Ulloa scored a goal each to tie the score at 4-4. The foul trouble caught up with Las Monjitas as they were pinned in their own half and conceded two more penalty goals to face a four-goal deficit against the potent La Dolfina team. Scoring his sixth penalty goal of the half, Nero pushed La Dolfina to a commanding 12-6 lead, leaving Las Monjitas in need of instant offense to mount a comeback in the second half.
Coming out with an increased intensity, Las Monjitas placed La Dolfina on their heels as they committed an uncharacteristic four fouls in the fifth chukka that directly led to four penalty goals for Caset. The offense from the penalty line quickly reduced the deficit from six to two as the excitement rose from the spectators with two chukkas remaining. The game continued to be played at a slow pace, with nine combined penalty attempts over the final two chukkas. Missing his only two attempts of the game, Caset’s missed chances allowed La Dolfina to edge back ahead by three behind two more conversions from Nero. La Dolfina was unwilling to concede any easy goals, forcing Las Monjitas to score from the penalty line and despite two more penalty goals from Caset, La Dolfina claimed the 17-14 victory after a goal from Adolfo Cambiaso sealed with win to advance to the Hurlingham Open finals.