Alegría to Face Ellerstina in Semifinals
By Darlene Ricker
Alegría Assist Card played their way into in the semifinals with a 13-11 win Monday over La Irenita in the first set of quarterfinals in the 123rd Argentine Open Polo Championship HSBC in Palermo. Alegría will face Ellerstina Johor in the semis on Sunday.
Hilario Ulloa was a magenta streak, charging up and down the field en route to making eight goals for Alegría. La Irenita made him work for every goal, but it was all the same to him. Ulloa, a study in consistency, maintained laser focus and stayed in attack mode the entire game. He burst out of nowhere, often catching La Irenita by surprise and buzzing past the defence straight into goal.
The first half of the match was intense. Both teams kept digging and matched each other goal for goal through the second chukka (4-4). A tide change began in the next chukka, when the momentum shifted slightly in Alegría’s favor. In the middle of the third chukka La Irenita slid into a one-goal lead (5-4), thanks to the goal-making ability of Juan “Tito” Ruiz Guiñazú and the strength of Matias MacDonough in the back.
Alegría didn’t let that stand for long. Aboard the cat-like Dolfina Popular, Ulloa launched into a series of ride-offs at warp speed with Guiñazú. Guiñazú was La Irenita’s high-scorer with seven goals on the day, five of them made with deadly accuracy from the line. Alegría ended third chukka one goal to the good (6-5) and never looked back.
Despite going into the last chukka trailing by four (12-8), La Irenita never gave up. They scored three consecutive goals, tightening the gap to one (12-11) and evoking some tense looks on the faces of the Alegría contingent. Lucas Monteverde, who played an excellent game, came through with a key save as the clock ticked down. Ulloa shut the door, ending the match 13-11 for Alegría.
The second set of quarterfinals pits La Aguada Las Monjitas against Cría Yatay on Tuesday. The winner will face La Dolfina Sancor Seguros when the semifinals begin Saturday.
All games in the Open are being live streamed on ESPN (except in Latin America): http://espni.go.com/player/video/playdemoesp/index.htm