Cría Yatay to Oppose La Dolfina in Semifinals
By Darlene Ricker
In one of the biggest upset wins of the season, Cría Yatay earned a place in the semifinals with a 14-10 win Tuesday over the mighty La Aguada Las Monjitas in the last set of quarterfinals in the 123rd Argentine Open Polo Championship HSBC in Palermo. Cría Yatay will face defending champion La Dolfina Sancor Seguros in the semis on Saturday.
The first team in tournament history to make it to the semis from the qualifications, Cría Yatay played well above their handicap. By the end of the third chukka, they had made their mark, surging into an 8-4 lead with three consecutive goals (two by Cristian “Magoo” Laprida and one by Joaquin Pittaluga).
La Aguada, meanwhile, had to struggle with the setback of being minus the injured Ignacio Novillo Astrada (Francisco Elizalde subbed). At the top of the fourth Alejandro Novillo Astrada, shooting from the penalty line, missed goal by barely a breath. That appeared to strike a nerve with La Aguada. They suddenly flashed the fierce resolve that has become their trademark and launched into a series of rapid-fire power plays. La Aguada owned the chukka, matching their opponent’s earlier three-goal streak and keeping Cría Yatay at an extended standstill. As the clock ticked down, Alejandro Novillo Astrada came through with a slammer to tighten the gap to a single-goal deficit (8-7).
La Aguada held Cría Yatay scoreless until the last moments of the fourth, when Joaquín Pittaluga scored from the field. An incredible save on the doorstep by Elizalde closed the first half. By that point each team had won 11 knock-ins and racked up four fouls.
In the tent at halftime, a rattled Cría Yatay tried to regroup. Magoo Laprida sat pensively, then dropped his head, closed his eyes and made the sign of the cross. The team came out determined in the second half, but the score remained at a 9-7 stalemate all the way through the fifth chukka. Cría Yatay gradually increased their lead, at one point pulling ahead five goals (12-7) in the seventh, when Pittaluga delivered once again with pinpoint accuracy from the line. He was 100 percent on his penalty shots, scoring on all seven attempts.
All games in the Open are being live streamed on ESPN (except in Latin America): http://espni.go.com/player/video/playdemoesp/index.htm