La Dolfina and Ellerstina Crush Opponents on Opening Day
By Darlene Ricker
Sunday was an opening day massacre by favorites La Dolfina Sancor Seguros and Ellerstina Johor in the 123rd Hurlingham Open. With the widest margins in recent memory, La Dolfina slammed Cría Yatay 23-9 and Ellerstina rolled over La Irenita 21-6. The other games were more balanced, with Alegría Assist Card defeating Washington 14-11 and El Paraíso taking La Aguada Las Monjitas 11-10.
Due to last week’s unrelenting downpours, the start of the tournament was delayed five days. That made for a heavy slate Sunday, with two matches played at the home club in Hurlingham (Ellerstina v. La Irenita; Alegría v. Washington) and two at the Alfredo Lalor polo grounds in Pilar (La Dolfina v. Cría Yatay; El Paraíso v. La Aguada LM). Both venues witnessed steamroller polo in the 2 p.m. games as La Dolfina and Ellerstina, as they so often do, seized control of the field straight away and never let go.
La Dolfina Slams Cría Yatay 23-9
It only took 30 seconds of play for defending champions La Dolfina Sancor Seguros to set the tone for the entire game. They won the initial throw-in, and Juan Martín chased the ball into goal. The Cañuelas steamroller followed up with four more unanswered goals to close the first chukka 5-0 over Cría Yatay, despite having lost Nero after a fall 6 minutes 27 seconds into play. Sebastian Merlos handily subbed in, making 4 goals and blending into the La Dolfina lineup as though it had been the plan all along.
La Dolfina maintained absolute superiority in every play, surging to a 10-goal lead at the end of the third chukka (11-1). The unparalleled talent of Adolfo Cambiaso, who made 9 goals, combined with the perfectly calibrated aim of David “Pelón” Stirling (7 goals) on long-range shots, was the perfect formula to seal a convincing 23-9 victory. Guillermo Terrera led the scoring for Cría Yatay with 6 goals, all from the field.
The victory extended La Dolfina’s undefeated record to 37 games in Argentine Triple Crown tournaments.
Ellerstina Torches La Irenita 21-6
While La Dolfina was cruising to victory in Pilar, the same scenario unfolded on field 2 of the organizing club. A flailing La Irenita managed to get one goal on the board in the first chukka, but by the end of the second they were trailing 8-1. Facundo Pieres was unstoppable, accounting for 10 goals on the day. The orchestrated onslaught of Ellerstina held La Irenita scoreless for 4 chukkas (the second, fourth, fifth and sixth). Like La Dolfina, team Pieres lost a player to injury. After making 3 goals, Nico Pieres was replaced in the second half by Ignatius du Plessis.
A tenacious Matias MacDonough salvaged what he could for La Irenita, making 5 goals from the line. La Irenita rallied, making 2 goals in the third chukka and allowing Ellerstina just 1. From there on Ellerstina showed no mercy, slamming in 10 more goals before the game ended 21-6.
El Paraíso Defeats La Aguada LM 11-10
The tightest contest of the day was between El Paraíso and La Aguada Las Monjitas. El Paraíso struck first and once on the scoreboard maintained their lead all the way to the final bell. Strong teamwork and stunningly skillful plays by Ignacio Toccalino clinched the win.
La Aguada capitalized on the experience of Miguel Novillo Astrada and the youthful brawn of Francisco Elizalde. Elizalde played in place of an injured Eduardo Novillo Astrada and made 4 goals from the field. The match morphed into a game of strategy in what became a super-tense final chukka. La Aguada surged ahead to shave their 4-goal deficit to just 1 and kept El Paraíso off the board, for a final score of 11-10.
Alegría Takes Washington 14-11
It was anyone’s guess who would come out on top in the match that ended the day. Alegría Assist Card and Washington both played for keeps, with the first half the tightest part of the battle. Alegría established a 2-goal lead in the first chukka (3-1). Washington promptly turned the tables with a 1-goal lead. Thanks to the firepower of young Facundo Sola, who made 8 goals total in the game, Washington clung to the lead through the second and third chukkas.
Alegría got back into the game in the fourth chukka and forged ahead for a 5-goal lead at the end of the sixth (12-7). Their strength came courtesy of Hilario Ulloa (10 goals total) and Guillermo “Sapo” Caset (6 goals, all but one from the field). A lit Caset converted 6 consecutive goals for his team, despite a full-court press by Washington with 4 goals in the seventh chukka (13-11). Alegría kept Washington scoreless in the final chukka and grabbed the final goal for a 14-11 win.