Las Monjitas Wins USPA Piaget Gold Cup
By Alex Webbe
Javier Astrada scored six goals to lead Las Monjitas to a 12-7 win over Skeeterville in the finals of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club in Wellington late Wednesday afternoon in a game that wasnâ€™t as close as the score might indicate.
Camilo Bautista and the three Astrada brothers were convinced that they could curb the dangerous attack of the Skeeterville team, and did a great job from the onset.
Skeeterville received one goal by handicap, but quickly found itself behind 2-1 after goals from Javier Astrada and his brother Eduardo Astrada in the first chukker.
After missing an early penalty shot, Skeetervilleâ€™s usually bankable Julio Arellano scored a goal from the field. Javier Astrada converted his second penalty goal of the chukker, however, and Las Monjitas left the field with a 3-2 lead.
The pace picked up in the second chukker but a blanket-like defense smothered the Skeeterville attack. Eduardo and Javier Astrada each scored a goal to increase the Las Monjitas lead to 5-2.
Skeeterville found some life in the third period with Julio Arellano scoring on a penalty shot and Will Johnston intercepting a pass and scoring from the field. Penalties proved to be their undoing, however, with both Javier and Nacho Astrada converting penalty shots. Las Monjitas held a 7-4 lead at the half.
Both teams had the opportunity to adjust their game plans at halftime, but it was Las Monjitas that seemed to have made the improvements. Two fourth chukker goals from Javier Astrada and a single goal from brother Nacho Astrada were countered by a single goal from Arellano, and the fourth chukker ended with Las Monjitas commanding a 10-5 advantage.
Las Monjitas was held to a single penalty goal in the fifth, but its overpowering defense shutout Skeeterville for the second time to take an 11-5 lead into the final chukker of play.
â€œI thought we played very well defensively,â€ said Javier Astrada, in what can only be construed as an understatement. The Astrada brothers were all over the Skeeterville players every time they got near the ball, and although Camilo Bautista didnâ€™t register in the scoring column for Las Monjitas, he played excellent defense and was invaluable in opening up holes for his teammates.
Adam Snow and Julio Arellano managed to convert single penalty shots for Skeeterville, but Eduardo Astradaâ€™s third goal of the game was more than Las Monjitas needed as it rode off with the 12-7 Piaget Gold Cup win.
â€œThis is a very sweet victory,â€ said Las Monjitas team captain Camilo Bautista following the match. â€œThis is the only cup we havenâ€™t won.â€
Las Monjitas beat White Birch to win the U. S. Open in 2003.
Javier Astrada led all scoring with seven goals on the day. Eduardo Astrada scored twice and Nacho Astrada added two goals for the win.
Julio Arellano led the Skeeterville attack with four goals. Will Johnston and Adam Snow added single goals, and the team received one goal by handicap.
Eduardo Astrada was named MVP while Owen Rinehartâ€™s Raptor received Best Playing Pony honors. White Birchâ€™s Califa was named tournament Best Playing Pony.
High goal action is scheduled to continue on Friday with the 4pm finals of the Butler Handicap between Audi and Lechuza, and on Sunday, with the opening round of the United States Open championship. A twelve oâ€™clock game between Isla Carroll and Bendabout will be followed by the 3pm stadium match up of Skeeterville and Zacara.