Park Place and Dubai Advance to King Power Gold Cup Semi-Finals
The remaining two quarterfinals in the 2019 King Power Gold Cup produced another exciting day of play at Cowdray Park Polo Club, with both games decided by just one goal. Park Place claimed the 9-8 victory against Emlor in the opening quarter-final of the day, while Dubai defeated La Indiana 8-7 to capture the inaugural Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Trophy.
Seeking to join VS King Power and Scone in the semi-finals, the first quarter-final of the day resulted in a foul-ridden affair between Emlor and Park Place, that was ultimately won on the penalty line with Park Place scoring eight of their nine goals on penalty conversions. Shooting under 10% from the field, Park Place’s missed opportunities conceded 13 knock-ins to Emlor, but they were unable to take advantage with Park Place’s defense effective throughout the game, including the final two chukkas where they held Emlor scoreless. Scoring the final six goals of the game led Park Place to the narrow 9-8 victory.
Capturing all three throw-ins in the opening chukka, Park Place held the early advantage after two goals from Juan Britos on a Penalty 2 conversion and goal from the field. In an emerging story line, that was Park Place’s lone field goal of the game as inaccurate shooting plagued them with missed opportunities around goal. Missing their final eight shots of the half, Park Place committed five fouls over the second and third chukkas to add to their struggles, resulting in three penalty conversions for Emlor’s Agustin Merlos, who guided Emlor to the 5-3 lead at halftime.
With Park Place’s inefficient offense continuing into the second half, Emlor used the momentum gained at the end of the first half in a dominating fourth chukka, highlighted by the play of Alfredo Bigatti. Scoring all three goals for Emlor in the chukka, Bigatti double the lead to four, leaving Park Place desperate for offense with just two chukkas remaining. As was the case throughout the game, Park Place was unable to generate offense from the field, but foul trouble for Emlor gave Park Place the opening they needed. Receiving five penalty shots over the final two chukkas, the duo of Britos and Benjamin Urquiza combined for perfect 5 for 5 shooting, with the last Penalty 2 conversion coming from Britos as time expired to complete the comeback and claim the narrow 9-8 victory.
The last quarterfinal was played in honour of the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha with Dubai and La Indiana battling until the final minute. A fast-paced opening half featured 20 combined shots between the two teams and just four fouls, with each team looking to their potent offenses to grab the lead. Facundo Pieres opened the scoring in the first chukka, while Dubai failed to find the goal despite four shot attempts. The Dubai offense came alive in the second chukka due to a strong performance from the throw-in line, winning four of five throw-ins in the chukka to begin their attacks. Ignatius Du Plessis effectively used the pass to find Bartolome Castagnola downfield, resulting in two goals and Dubai claiming their first lead of the game. With the anticipation of a high-scoring game, it was defence for both teams that was crucial, with La Indiana held off the scoresheet to end the half and Dubai extending their lead to two after Bartolome Castagnola’s third goal of the game.
La Indiana quickly cut the deficit in half with a quick attack that put pressure on the Dubai defence in front of their own goal, resulting in two Penalty 2 conversions for Pieres. Looking to use the open space on the field, Dubai continued to utilize the pass effectively, finishing with assists on five of their seven field goals, including two goals from Camilo Castagnola to narrowly hold a one-goal lead with two chukkas remaining. A defensive fifth chukka saw neither team willing to concede an inch, as the teams traded penalty goals, with Dubai’s Bartolome Castagnola converting a Penalty 2, while La Indiana’s Jimbo Fewster received a Penalty 1 to leave just one chukka to decide the final spot in the semi-finals. Under immense pressure, a safety conversion for Pieres tied the score at 7-7, but a determined Dubai attack resulted in a scrum in front of La Indiana’s goal, with Camilo Castagnola jumping on the loose ball to convert a neckshot and push Dubai back into the lead. Time quickly expired after the following throw-in, sending Dubai into the semi-finals with a thrilling 8-7 victory.