Since when can a team shoot barely over 30 percent and still remain standing after the semis?
Almost never, unless their roster reads: Pieres, Pieres, Pieres and Pieres. It also doesn’t hurt when the opposing team is minus a Novillo Astrada.
Ellerstina defied the odds Friday in the first virtual semis game of the 2017 Hurlingham Open, taking a 12-11 win despite shooting just 8/26. Even without the prayed-for return of Eduardo Novillo Astrada, La Aguada Las Monjitas shot a stunning 85 percent (6 of 7).
How did 39-goal Ellerstina manage to squeak past La Aguada LM (31 goals) on those percentages? By proving that stats are just numbers, and that you can’t predict the human (or horse) factor on any given day—particularly when you have a torqued passel of Piereses swarming the field.
Here’s a slideshow of how it went down:
FACTOR #1: POSSESSION (ELLERSTINA)
The Z controlled possession at almost every turn, and the ball was constantly in the La Aguada defensive half. Any backhands or starts of possession for La Aguada quickly resulted in a turnover and a chance for Ellerstina. Since Ellerstina shot so poorly in the game, they really began to press to try and make it happen.
FACTOR #2: ACCURACY (LA AGUADA LM)
At that point La Aguada LM began to take advantage of Ellerstina overextending themselves to finish off their runs at goal. The Open Door contingent won the fourth chukker 2-0 and pulled into the lead 7-6 at halftime. La Aguada LM didn't miss a shot until the seventh chukker, which is remarkable.
FACTOR #3: RESILIENCE (LA AGUADA LM)
La Aguada LM pushed on while forced to play the extended game of musical saddles since opening day of the 2017 Argentine season. Eduardo Novillo Astrada was injured early in the first Tortugas Open game, and a series of capable subs stepped in. They too suffered injuries, with the sub seat rotating between Alfredo Bigatti and Juan Britos. Bigatti was back for the semis and was active in the middle of the field and looked to provide some energy for La Aguada and he had a nice goal from the throw-in to finish the fifth chukker.
FACTOR #4: AN ENOJADO FACUNDO (ELLERSTINA)
La Aguada was effective at keeping Ellerstina away from the center of the field and preventing any long passes downfield for Ellerstina to get breakaways, but the performance of Facundo Pieres and Polito Pieres wore them down.
As the second half unrolled, it became claro that Facundo had had quite enough. As he so often does in when his team is upside down in the scoring, especially late in the game, Facundo pummeled the ball. In the fifth and sixth he completely put Ellerstina on his back, controlling the ball and using nice blocking from Polito and Gonzalito Pieres to make individual runs. Scoring five goals in those two chukkers was exactly what Ellerstina needed to remain in the game. A great steal and goal by Polito in the seventh with 3 minutes left in the game handed Ellerstina a ticket to the final.
Facundo Pieres made 7 goals, Polito 5.
Ellerstina shot 8/26 to La Aguada LM’s 6/7.
Both teams had equal numbers of fouls (9) and throw-in wins (12).
The only missed shot for La Aguada was in seventh chukker.
Photos by Katerina Morgan