This was one of those games (and there have been a spate of them this season) that was excruciating to watch. Anyone wearing a La Albertina Abu Dhabi jersey must have felt like he was a guest of Henry VIII on the rack in the Tower of London.
La Dolfina ripped their opponent apart limb by limb in every aspect of the game. As has become more and more evident throughout the tournament, just about any team other than Ellerstina or perhaps Alegría would be delusional to think they had a prayer against the La Dolfina string.
For La Dolfina the strategy was simple: Slam the gas pedal to the floor and keep it there. In more plays than you can count on two hands, they gunned it past La Albertina or used long passes and then outran them to the ball. Rarely did La Dolfina see the ball stay still, nor did they tap it more than once on most plays.
La Dolfina, who uses every member of the team, prevailed on the elite performance of power duo Adolfo Cambiaso and Pablo MacDonough. They made 17 goals total (Cambiaso 10, MacDonough 7). On field goals (15 of 23) they combined for an efficient 65%. As usual, Juan Martín Nero and Pelon Stirling were stonewalls on the defense.
La Albertina found themselves a step behind all game. At times they pushed forward, although with a gusto that went to their detriment. They sent too many players forward and kept none far enough back to protect against the swift La Dolfina counter attack.
Santiago Toccalino was going forward quite a bit, along with Ignacio Toccalino. That left Alfredo Cappella back on his own. A power hitter, Cappella likes to make runs and go forward when he can. Every time he did, thought, it left La Albertina exposed and La Dolfina took advantage. However, he ended a 12-goal rampage by La Dolfina just before the half, converting a penalty 3.
As soon as La Dolfina got possession, they used quick passes and their superior horsepower to blow past La Albertina and create breakaways and easy scoring chances. You just can’t do that against a team of 10-goalers (especially these four guys). They needed to create more difficult shot opportunities for La Dolfina.
The second chukker was a consummate performance by La Dolfina. They were 100% on scoring (4-for-4) in the second. Adolfo Cambiaso grabbed at ball at the centerline and beat it down the field, passing three La Albertina players who probably got windburn. He made a slick cut shot, putting La Dolfina ahead 7-1. La Albertina made only one goal total during the first three chukkers, and by then La Dolfina was ahead by 10 (11-1).
La Albertina trailed by 11 at the end of the first half (13-2) but started to pull it together in the second half. Each of their players scored one goal in each of the last four chukkers.
In fairness, La Albertina deserves an A for effort in their debut Argentine Open, and especially for their perseverance in this game against a 40-goal bullet train. Some way, somehow, they maintained the psychological strength to ignore the carnage and push on.
- Adolfo Cambiaso and Pablo MacDonough combine for 15/23 shooting from the field
- La Dolfina scores 12 straight goals from 1st to 4th chukkers
- La Albertina held to one shot in the first half
- Fouls: La Dolfina 2, La Albertina 9
- Throw-ins wins close: La Dolfina 19, La Albertina 1
2018 CLASSIFICATION: La Dolfina has qualified for the 2018 Argentine Open. La Albertina would have to win at least one of their next games to qualify.
NEXT GAMES: The tournament continues Wednesday with two games: Alegría vs. Chapaleufú (2 p.m.) and Ellerstina vs. La Dolfina Polo Ranch (4:30 p.m.). All times are local.
LIVE STREAM: ESPN is live streaming all games in the 2017 Argentine Open. The stream is only available online in certain geographical areas. Viewers in the United States can watch on an iPhone or iPad. More information: http://espni.go.com/player/video/ESPNPlayPolo/index.htm.
Photos by Katerina Morgan