So the news is out: Sapo Caset and Polito Pieres have had their 10 handicaps reinstated in Argentina for 2018. Now here is the backstory: What did it take for them to rejoin the “10 Club” (Adolfo Cambiaso, Pablo Mac Donough, Juan M. Nero, David Stirling, Facundo Pieres, Gonzalo Pieres, Nicolás Pieres and Hilario Ulloa)?
The difference between 9 and 10 may be just one digit, but in the polo world they are miles apart. It’s long, steep climb to reach 10, especially in Argentina. Polito first became a 10 in 2014 and Sapo in 2015. As they found, it can be a short trip back to 9. After holding a 10-goal handicap for two years, Polito was lowered from 10 goals to 9 goals after the 2016 season. Sapo suffered a similar fate after holding a 10-goal handicap for just the 2016 season.
After a slow start in the 2017 Tortugas Open, Polito took his game to another level beginning with the Hurlingham Open. In Hurlingham he averaged 6.8 goals per game (34 goals in 5 games), second only to Sapo’s 7.8 average (39 goals in 5 games).
Polito’s odds of becoming a 10-goaler rose in the Hurlingham Open final, where he stepped up in the absence of an injured Facundo Pieres. Behind an 11-goal performance, Polito led Ellerstina to the Hurlingham Open title, displaying a leadership mentality that characterizes the other 10-goalers of the world. Polito continued his offensive display in the Argentine Open, leading all players with 38 goals, a significant feat given the talent on each team. Making a noticeable impact in each game, Polito stood out among 10-goal players, creating opportunities and taking advantage of the chances presented to him. Polito placed top five in shooting percentage during the Argentine Open, providing a consistent scoring presence on an Ellerstina team with three 10-goal players that reached all three finals in the 2017 Triple Crown.
Basic statistics demonstrated that Sapo was a top player throughout the 2017 Triple Crown, leading Alegría to the Hurlingham Open final and bringing them into the conversation with Ellerstina and La Dolfina. Finishing with 32 goals and a tournament-leading 8.0 goals per game, Sapo was effective both offensively and defensively. He played at a level that raised the performance of his teammates, with Facundo Sola and Fred Mannix moving to 9-goal handicaps for 2018. A key to Alegría’s success was Sapo’s proficiency from the penalty line, where he shot 75% in the Argentine Open, fifth among all players. More impressively, in his two semi-finals and Hurlingham Open final, Sapo shot 16 for 18 (89%) from the penalty line, converting under high-pressure situations when his team needed it most.
- 7.8 goals per game in Hurlingham Open (1st)
- 8.0 goals per game in Argentine Open (1st)
- 75% penalty percentage (5th)
- 16 for 18 on penalty shots in semi-final or final games (Hurlingham and Argentine Open)
- 6.8 goals per game in Hurlingham (2nd)
- 38 total goals in Argentine Open (1st)- 3rd most goals per game behind Sapo and Diego Cavanagh
- 69% shooting in Argentine Open (4th)
- 11-goal performance in Hurlingham Open Final win
2014 - Polito (9), Sapo (9)
2015 - Polito (10), Sapo (9)
2016 - Polito (10), Sapo (10)
2017- Polito (9), Sapo (9)
2018 - Polito (10), Sapo (10)
The Board of Directors of the AAP used four factors to make their handicap decisions for 2018, which they consider a more integral system:
1. Recommendations of the Handicap Subcommittees
2. Final ranking in the Triple Crown (you can see it by clicking HERE )
3. Results of voting by the players who participated in the Triple Crown
4. Recommendations of the affiliated clubs
If you want to see all the increases and decreases for 2018, click HERE