Overtimes Highlight Thrilling Semi-Finals in King Power Gold Cup
With a place in Sunday’s 2018 King Power Gold Cup final on the line, both semi-finals needed overtime in an exciting day of play at Cowdray Park Polo Club. El Remanso opened the day by defeating La Indiana 14-13, while La Bamba de Areco defeated RH Polo 10-9.
The opening semi-final saw a back and forth affair between El Remanso and La Indiana that produced plenty of goals and lead changes. After a slow start for El Remanso, they used a strong defensive effort to hold La Indiana to just three field goals in the final four chukkas, while converting 8 of their final 9 shots in the game. Despite the accurate shooting for El Remanso, La Indiana matched them offensively throughout the latter part of the game, due to perfect 5 for 5 penalty shooting from Facundo Pieres in the final three chukkas leading up to overtime. Ultimately in a game that came down to the final play, it was El Remanso’s ability to convert their chances that proved to be the difference for the all-English side.
The first half saw La Indiana apply early pressure on El Remanso, led by two goals from Michael Bickford, who finished two plays in front of goal to help La Indiana grab a 5-3 lead after the opening two chukkas. The pressure from La Indiana held the potent El Remanso in check early, holding them to 1 for 4 shooting from the field. The fortunes of El Remanso changed in a 3-0 third chukka, that saw James Beim take advantage of three La Indiana fouls to score two penalty goals, while preventing La Indiana from registering a shot. The three-goal chukka for El Remanso propelled them into the 6-5 lead, despite shooting just 2 for 7 from the field.
The second half saw El Remanso begin to operate more efficiently with their passing game, translating into better scoring chances throughout the half. A high-scoring fourth chukka saw both teams score three goals, alternating all six goals in the chukka with Pieres and James Harper accounting for two of their team’s goals.
The fifth chukka saw a repeat of the fourth, with both teams once again scoring three goals each, with La Indiana’s three goals all coming from the penalty line off the mallet of Pieres. Trailing by one goal, Pieres continued his offensive performance, scoring back-to-back goals to give La Indiana the one-goal advantage with time running out. A give and go between Oliver Cudmore and Charlie Hanbury was ultimately finished by Harper to send the game into overtime. After a missed penalty 4 from Pieres, his first penalty miss of the game, provided El Remanso with an extra opportunity, it was Cudmore who jumped on the loose ball and ran it through the goal to complete the thrilling match and send El Remanso in the King Power Gold Cup finals.
The second semi-final provided to be just as exciting and as tight as the first with La Bamba de Areco taking the opening possession of overtime and running it directly in for the winning goal. An exceptional team performance for La Bamba de Areco saw a strong outing from Byron Watson, along with Polito Pieres, who filled in admirably for David Stirling. The defensive showing of La Bamba de Areco in the latter half of the game was crucial in the victory, with RH Polo converting just 3 of their final 9 shot attempts. Overcoming three missed penalty attempts, La Bamba de Areco were able to claim the thrilling overtime victory through the combined performance of Pieres and Nero who finished around goal effectively in the final chukkas of the game.
The first half saw a physical style of play with La Bamba de Areco creating more opportunities at goal but failing to convert their chances. Missing 6 of their first 8 shots, La Bamba de Areco fell behind 4-2, with Caset and Andrade scoring two goals each to pace the RH Polo offense. The third chukka saw possession change hands constantly, with neither team able to produce a consistent attack to build a lead. A penalty 2 conversion for Polito Pieres brought La Bamba de Areco within one goal as they trailed 4-3 at halftime.
The second half saw the two teams nearly indistinguishable as they traded goals, remaining within one goal of each other after each chukka. A foul ridden fourth chukka gave La Bamba de Areco four penalty attempts, but converting just two of their attempts, kept the one-goal advantage with RH Polo. The fifth chukka displayed the work of Jean-Francois Decaux, who scored both La Bamba de Areco goals in the chukka to bring his team back within a tie with just one chukka remaining. After both teams scored two goals, time was running out as Polito Pieres raced away on a breakaway run, with Sapo Caset pressuring from behind. Just yards from goal, a bounce sent the ball out of the goal mouth and left the outcome of the game to be decided as time expired and the game was sent into overtime. Receiving a spot hit to begin the overtime chukka, La Bamba de Areco did not concede possession as Nero carried the ball directly downfield and found space to send a shot through the goal, sending his team into the finals after the thrilling semi-final victory.