La Albertina/Abu Dhabi vs La Irenita
The final weekend of group stage games in the 2017 Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo began with La Albertina/Abu Dhabi defeating La Irenita 20-11 on Field 2 in Palermo.
Overcoming a slow start, La Albertina produced a strong second half behind a strong defensive effort, limiting La Irenita to just three shots and one field goal in the final four chukkas. Capitalizing on their throw-in wins to produce offensive chances, Francisco Elizalde and Ignacio Toccalino led the way offensively for La Albertina, combining for 8 for 10 shooting from the field, while Alfredo Cappella was an efficient 6 for 7 from the penalty line, resulting in the 20-goal outburst for La Albertina on their way to the resounding 9-goal victory.
It was La Irenita that jumped on La Albertina early, racing out to a 3-0 lead just two minutes and forty seconds into the game. A penalty 3 conversion for Guillermo Willington, followed by back-to-back goals from Juan Martin Zavaleta and Clemente Zavaleta, left La Albertina stunned as they had barely touched the ball and found themselves in a three-goal deficit. That was the only offence produced for the remainder of the first chukka as La Albertina shot at goal and failing to close the deficit.
A different La Albertina team began the second chukka, taking advantage of four La Irenita fouls to explode for a 5-0 chukka, turning a 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead. After two penalty conversions for Alfredo Cappella opened the chukka, La Albertina scored three goals in just a minute and a half, with Ignacio Toccalino starting the run with two quick goals, followed by Elizalde scoring his first goal of the game on the following throw-in. La Irenita recovered from the La Albertina run, playing the rest of the first half even, with both teams scoring two goals in the third chukka and one in the fourth. With La Albertina maintaining their two-goal lead, they entered halftime with the slim 8-6 lead, with all four players scoring at least one goal.
A high scoring fifth chukka, saw La Albertina score three goals from the field, while La Irenita’s Guillermo Willington converted all three of his penalty attempts to keep La Irenita within reach. Halfway through the chukka, Santiago Toccalino was forced to exit the game due to injury, replaced by Agustin Garcia Grossi, who helped La Albertina extend their lead in the 6th chukka. Capitalizing on four La Irenita fouls, Cappella converted three penalty attempts, while working with Grossi defensively to hold La Irenita to zero goals in the sixth chukka, finally pulling away from La Irenita and extending their lead to 14-9.
La Albertina continued to play at a fast pace to finish the game, scoring three goals in each chukka during the second half. Perfect 6 for 6 penalty shooting, along with two field goals for Willington wasn’t enough as La Irenita struggled to generate offence in the second half. With the addition of Grossi, La Albertina displayed a balanced attack that saw all five players score at least two goals, pulling away from a La Irenita to finish with the 20-11 victory.
La Aguada LM vs La Dolfina
The first match-up between undefeated 3-0 teams in the 2017 Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo, saw La Dolfina secure their spot in the finals with a dominating 14-1 victory over La Aguada Las Monjitas on Field 1 in Palermo.
Displaying an elite defensive performance, La Dolfina conceded a penalty 2 just over a minute into the game, but that would be La Aguada LM’s only goal of the game, as La Dolfina used exceptional defensive rotation and positioning to stifle the La Aguada LM offence. Throughout the tournament La Dolfina has avoided fouling, averaging just 3.0 fouls per game and it was no different against La Aguada, committing just five fouls for the game. Keeping the game in open play, La Dolfina played to their strengths and used their fast passing attack to outshoot La Aguada LM 28-5 on their way to victory.
After David Stirling scored just seconds into the game on the opening throw-in, La Aguada LM quickly responded as Alejandro Novillo Astrada converted a penalty 2 to even the score at 1-1. The recipient of a perfectly placed pass from Adolfo Cambiaso, Stirling added his second goal of the game and quickly followed that up with a solo effort for a three-goal first chukka and a 3-1 lead for La Dolfina.
The team defence of La Dolfina provided zero openings for La Aguada LM in the second and third chukkas, as La Aguada LM failed to record a shot, while La Dolfina converted four of their seven shot attempts behind the work of Cambiaso and Stirling. Scoring from 80 yards out for his first goal, Cambiaso then continued his passing display, finding Stirling once again as La Dolfina pushed their lead to 7-1. La Aguada was unable to maintain possession and get past the back line of La Dolfina, with any long pass quickly turned around by a La Dolfina backhand to begin an attack of their own. The beneficiary of a Stirling pass, Juan Martin Nero scored La Dolfina’s 8th goal to finish the half, while holding La Aguada to just two missed shot attempts.
Although La Dolfina shot just 3 for 13 in the second half, their defensive proficiency was the story of the game, keeping the ball in the La Aguada half of the field for most of the game. The La Dolfina pressure resulted in foul trouble for La Aguada in the second half, with six fouls resulting in three penalty conversions for La Dolfina, one from Nero and two from Cambiaso. Registering just a single shot in the 5th, 6th and 7th chukkas, La Aguada was left searching for answers as La Dolfina increased their lead to 14-1.
With the outcome already determined, the 8th chukka saw zero goals, as La Dolfina cruised to victory, securing their place in the final as they strive to win their 5th consecutive Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo.