Playing without superstar regulars Sebastian and Pite Merlos, Lechuza Caracas destroyed a talented Orchard Hill team 17-9 to earn a berth in the finals of the Butler Handicap at the International Polo Club in Wellington Tuesday afternoon.
Lechuza received three goals by handicap, but quickly overcame Jeff Hallâ€™s opening goal as Sapo Caset converted three penalty shots and Guille Aguerro chipped in a goal from the field to ride out to a 7-1 first chukker lead.
Hall converted a penalty goal in the second period and Orchard Hill team captain, Steve Van Andel, added a goal as the team struggled to get back into the game. A solid defensive effort by Orchard Hill shut down the Lechuza attack, but Orchard Hill still trailed 7-3.
The field energy of Caset and Aguero was electric as they passed, rode off, dropped passes to teammates and generally made Orchard Hillâ€™s life on the field miserable.
Aguero gave Lechuza two more goals in the third period. Caset notched his fourth of the game. Lucas Criado scored once for Orchard Hill, but Lechuza would take the 10-4 lead to the sidelines at the end of the first half.
The two teams each scored a pair of goals in the fourth chukker with Aguero and Caset getting on the board for Lechuza and Hector Galindo and Criado scoring for Orchard Hill. Lechuza held the lead, 12-6.
Vargas continued to stretch the lineup from his Number 1 position while Lechuzaâ€™s Back, Nico Espain delivered powerful backhanders in defense. In the middle of the Lechuza lineup Caset and Aguero continued to pressure the Orchard Hill defense.
Criadoâ€™s third goal of the game cut the Lechuza lead to five goals, 12-7, before Caset scored consecutive goals on opposite ends of the field in a matter of seconds of one another. Lechuza commanded a 14-7 advantage with only seven-and-a-half minutes left in the game.
Penalty conversions from Galindo and Hall made it 14-9, but that would be as close as they would get.
Caset added his eighth and ninth goal of the game, and with time winding down, Vargas took a well-placed pass and slammed it through the goal posts for the final 17-9 score.
â€œSimple polo,â€ smiled Vargas after the game. â€œWe just played teamwork and simple polo,â€
Sapo Caset led all scoring with nine goals. Teammate Guille Aguero scored four times and Lechuza team captain, Victor Vargas, added a goal.
Orchard Hillâ€™s Lucas Criado and Jeff Hall each scored three goals. Hector Galindo scored twice and Steve Van Andel added a goal in a losing effort.
The win puts Lechuza in the finals of the Butler Handicap on Sunday morning at 11 am against the winner of Thursdayâ€™s Audi-White Birch semifinal.