Scone and VS King Power Advance to King Power Gold Cup Semi-Finals
An exciting start to the 2019 King Power Gold Cup quarter-finals featured two games decided by just one goal each, with Scone needing overtime to defeat Talandracas 11-10 in the first quarter-final, while VS King Power survived a late comeback attempt from Murus Sanctus to claim the 13-12 victory at Cowdray Park Polo Club.
In a game decided by the narrowest of margins, Scone overcame a slow start against Talandracas by applying pressure on their opponent’s defence, receive 11 fouls which led to seven penalty attempts and a three-goal advantage from the penalty line. Talandracas proved to hold the advantage in open play, shooting 57% from the field compared to just 38% from Scone, but the foul trouble and consistent offense for Scone from the penalty line was the difference in the Talandracas defeat.
In what was a storyline throughout the opening half, the Talandracas defence frustrated Scone, conceding zero field goals in the first three chukkas, with Scone’s only offense coming from the penalty line. Julian de Lusarreta led the defensive effort for Talandracas, while Francisco Elizalde and Alejandro Muzzio added a goal each in the second chukka to give Talandracas the one-goal lead. Nico Piere’s second penalty conversion of the game kept Scone within reach, but their inability to generate an attack from open play allowed Talandracas to build a two-goal lead behind a field goal and penalty goal from Elizalde.
Continuing to utilize their advantage in open play with an organized defence and quick counterattack, Talandracas produced an efficient start to the second half, with Elizalde and Muzzio contributing on the scoresheet once again. Finally breaking through for a goal from the field, Scone’s James Beim combined with Nico Pieres’ two penalty goals to maintain the two-goal deficit, despite their team converting just one of their first seven shot attempts. In the decisive chukka of the match, Scone exploded for four goals behind a balanced offensive attack, with one from each player, as James Harper led the charge with a goal and two assists to push Scone ahead by one, despite trailing for most of the game. In a thrilling conclusion, Elizalde’s sixth goal of the game sent the first quarter-final into overtime, where little time was needed as Nico Pieres made arguably the play of the tournament by making a neckshot near the sideboards, just inside the 60 yard line to send Scone into the semi-finals in impressive fashion with the 11-10 victory.
The second quarterfinal also came down to the final minutes, with VS King Power surviving the comeback attempt from Murus Sanctus, thanks to a strong start that saw them shoot 63% from the field over the first four chukkas. Foul trouble for VS King Power allowed Murus Sanctus to fight their way back in the game, led by the penalty shooting of Facundo Sola, who converted 7 of 8 penalty attempts to finish with a game-high 10 goals. Despite being held to zero goals in the final two chukkas, VS King Power advanced to the semi-finals with the 13-12 victory.
A back and forth start to the game resulted in both teams generating scoring chances, but the inaccuracy of Murus Sanctus, converting just one of their first six shots, led to VS King Power claiming the early lead. The duo of Polito Pieres and Top Srivaddhanaprabha were effective for VS King Power in the opening two chukkas, scoring three goals each behind an accurate passing attack that caused difficulties for the Murus Sanctus defence. However, eight fouls from VS King Power to end the half kept Murus Sanctus within two goals after five consecutive penalty conversions for Sola left the score at 10-7 leading into halftime.
Looking to create an insurmountable lead, VS King Power came out strong to begin the second half, with spectators treated to a three-goal chukka from Polito Pieres, displaying his elite 9-goal status to extend his team’s lead to five. Dominating the throw-in line contributed to VS King Power’s possession advantage as they won 18 of 27 throw-ins in the game, but in the final two chukkas, VS King Power’s attention turned to protecting their lead, as they sat back and gave Murus Sanctus the space they needed to mount a comeback. Along with a goal from Gonzalito Pieres, it was Facundo Sola that continued to pace the Murus Sanctus attack, adding two more penalty goals to bring the score within one. After receiving a penalty 5, Murus Sanctus got the ball inside the 60-yard line, but couldn’t get any closer as VS King Power hung on for the thrilling 13-12 victory, giving Murus Sanctus their first loss of the tournament and securing the second spot in the semi-finals.