The quarterfinals of the 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup kick off Saturday at Cowdray Polo Club: La Indiana v. Sommelier (noon) and El Remanso v. Monterosso (3 p.m.).
Here is an advance look at what the stats say about the match-ups for Saturday, with a featured player profile and a comment from each team. Tomorrow polochannel.com brings you an advance look at Sunday’s quarterfinal match-ups.
GAME 1: LA INDIANA v. SOMMELIER
Ranked second highest in goals per game for the 2017 UK season, La Indiana are as dangerous an offensive team as any. Propelled by Nic Roldan and Pite Merlos (subbing for injured Tincho Merlos), they use a fast-paced passing attack that is insanely difficult to defend. Luke Tomlinson provides stability in the #4 position, allowing his teammates to attack. La Indiana are the most efficient team from the penalty line at 85.7%, so Sommelier need to avoid fouling them at all costs.
Nic Roldan: “We’re excited! We’ve been in this position before, and we’re ready to go. Sommelier’s a really tough team. They’ve been getting better and better as the tournament progressed. We’re just focused on ourselves and playing our system—putting a lot of rhythm, speed and intensity into the game. It will be exciting. These are all good teams, and it’s going to be very competitive.”
Sommelier are in tough company. They score the fewest number of goals per game, but they have effective team defense on the back end with captain Fred Mannix and Juan Gris Zavaleta. Sommelier are a possession-type team, with both Mannix and Zavaleta ranking in the top 5 in throw-in wins. Sommelier will need to limit the dangerous La Indiana attack and focus on slowing down the game and controlling possession, as a quick giveaway will result in instant offense for La Indiana.
Fred Mannix: “It’s going to be a super-interesting match for me, as I know these [La Indiana] guys really well. I’ve played the Argentine Open with Luke, Pite and Agustín, and their manager, Ruki Baillieu, who is one of my best friends. Nic Roldan I’ve played with many years in the United States; he’s a great player—a fantastic player!—and powerful. So it will be a game played amongst friends, a very intimate game played with a lot on the line: the Gold Cup is the premier tournament in Europe to win. Obviously we’re the underdog, given La Indiana’s past success the way they’ve been playing, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge. Luckily our team has come together at the right moment. We’ve got Alec firing on all cylinders and Juan Gris playing great and George working like a badger. I’m really focused for this match, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it a win for Sommelier.”
GAME 2: EL REMANSO v. MONTEROSSO
El Remanso continue to impress, using both a balanced offense and a balanced defense to challenge their opponent. El Remanso is the lowest-fouling team in the Gold Cup, helping them play to their strength, which is an open-play passing attack. Charlie Hanbury and Ollie Cudmore are very strong at assisting defensively on the top players, while quickly releasing downfield for James Beim and James Harper to start the attack.
Charlie Hanbury: “Monterosso is a strong team. We know it’s going to be tough. The Toccalino brothers are very strong, solid players, and Matt Perry is a very talented English player we know very well. We prepared for the quarters the same way we prepared for every other game: Friday morning we had chukkas and then a team meeting. We watched DVDs of our game against Monterosso in the Queen’s Cup and of their last [Gold Cup] league match against Sommelier. This is a quarterfinal, and obviously anything can happen. It’s down to six chukkas. We’re ready to give it our all.”
Ollie Cudmore: “My good mate Matt Perry is having a great season, so it will be fun to play against him in such a big game. We had a close win against Monterosso in the Queen’s Cup, but they have stepped it up a level in the Gold Cup and beaten some great teams. If we play well I’m confident we can get the win, but it will be a tough game.”
Monterosso have had two big wins over tough opponents and haven’t done so by creating offensive battles. The team with the third-lowest goals-per-game average in the Gold Cup, Monterosso use efficiency. They rank #1 in team shot percentage at 59.1% and #1 in penalty shot percentage at 85.7%. Monterosso take advantage of the opportunities they get. So although El Remanso are effective at limiting the opportunities for their opponents, Monterosso are capable of winning a lower-scoring game.
Cubi Toccalino: “On Friday we had a practice in the morning, a team meeting in the afternoon and a barbecue at night with all the team together. We came from a difficult bracket, and it’s our first year in England and our first year as Monterosso. El Remanso is a very good team, well organized, and they played last year together. So we know it’s going to be a difficult game, but we believe in our team and in ourselves. We have confidence that we can win. We feel look, the horses feel good, and we are looking forward to it."
All Photography by Snoopy Productions
All 2017 Gold Cup games are being live streamed on pololine.tv.
Complete tournament schedule and daily game locations can be found here.