Brunei and MB Polo Claim Top Two Seeds in Copa de Plata Semi-Finals
The final two games of group play in the 2019 Copa de Plata resulted in Brunei and MB Polo claiming the first and second seeds respectively, leading into the semi-finals at Santa Maria Polo Club. In the opening game of the day, MB Polo overwhelmed Dos Lunas to capture the 11-7 victory, while Brunei held on to defeat La Indiana 11-10.
An exciting opening game between MB Polo and Dos Lunas produced runs for both teams, with higher shooting accuracy of 58% from MB Polo, compared to just 29% from Dos Lunas providing the edge MB Polo needed in the game. The duo of Tomas Panelo and Polito Pieres, playing in place of Pablo MacDonough, combined for 10 goals in the victory for MB Polo. End-to-end action began the game with each team receiving opportunities from the field, but Dos Lunas converted just two of their first nine shots to fall behind early. MB Polo inched into the lead in the second chukka behind two field goals from Pieres, while Luis Domecq responded with his second goal of the game, responsible for all of Dos Lunas’ offense through the opening two chukkas. A decisive chukka in the game proved to be the third chukka with MB Polo outscoring Dos Lunas 4-0, as Panelo was the difference maker, scoring three goals on perfect 100% shooting to give MB Polo the 8-3 lead at halftime.
In need of offense, Dos Lunas pressured MB Polo downfield to receive two penalty attempts, both of which were converted by Joaquin Pittaluga, helping Dos Lunas fight within reach. Adding a field goal for his third goal of the game, Pittaluga brought Dos Lunas within two, as MB Polo’s offense slowed due to the increased pressure from Dos Lunas and missing all three shot attempts in the fifth chukka. With semi-final positioning on the line, MB Polo’s Pieres stepped up in the crucial final chukka to seal the victory on his third and fourth field goals of the game. The slow start from Dos Lunas ultimately proved to be their downfall as MB Polo captured the 11-7 victory.
Looking to remain undefeated, Brunei faced a difficult La Indiana team in a game of two halves. Brunei built a large lead early in the game on pinpoint shooting, only to miss their final six shots of the game, allowing La Indiana to fight all the way back within one goal behind the efforts of a five-goal performance from Gonzalito Pieres. A tightly marked end to the game limited the chances for La Indiana as Brunei held on for the narrow one-goal victory. Brunei raced out of the gate, adding to their one goal advantage on handicap with two goals from Camilo Castagnola, while La Indiana’s Michael Bickford responded with one goal. The second chukka displayed the balance of Brunei’s attack, threatening the La Indiana defence from every angle in a 4-1 chukka that saw all four Brunei players find the scoresheet. Adding to his four first half assists, Juan Martin Nero closed the half with his second goal of the game, giving Brunei the commanding 9-4 advantage.
A fast-paced, clean game between the two teams kept La Indiana off the penalty line in the first half, but that changed in the fourth chukka after two fouls from Brunei resulted in a penalty 4 attempt for La Indiana’s Gonzalito Pieres. Missing the attempt, La Indiana was unable to close the deficit, as MB Polo managed their lead, maintaining the five-goal advantage with just two chukkas remaining. The game changed instantly in the fifth chukka due to Pieres moving forward in the game to receive passes from James Fewster and Bautista Urbina, scoring two goals for La Indiana to cut the deficit to just two. Despite trailing the entire game, La Indiana scored their sixth consecutive goal on a Penalty 2 conversion from Pieres to pull within one with just minutes remaining. A late charge downfield was thwarted by Brunei, as they held on for the narrow 11-10 victory, despite going scoreless over the final two chukkas to improve to 4-0 and claim the top seed in the upcoming semi-finals.