What do Facundo Sola, Fred Mannix and Ignacio Novillo Astrada have in common? The number 9. This week the AAP raised their handicaps from 8 for the 2018 season.
Mannix and Sola were teammates on Alegría, the team that gave the long-standing power teams a migraine all season long. The guys in the magenta jerseys were finalists in the Hurlingham Open and almost repeated that feat in the Argentine Open, losing to Ellerstina by just one goal in the semifinals. Novillo Astrada played for La Aguada Las Monjitas, who made it to the semifinals in all three Triple Crown tournaments.
Here’s a stats-based review of their 2017 Triple Crown performances, which weighed heavily in the AAP’s decision to raise them to 9.
If you ask Facundo Sola what got him to 9 goals, he rapidly rattles off a list: “My organization, my father, my mother, my sisters, my trainers, my grooms . . . ” Sola says he appreciates the AAP’s raising him and is “happy, happy, very happy!”
Playing in place of the injured Lucas Monteverde, Sola was crucial to Alegría’s success with his ability to provide secondary scoring behind tournament leader Sapo Caset. After averaging 2.2 goals per game in the Hurlingham Open, Sola was a standout player for Alegría in the Argentine Open, scoring 3.5 field goals per game, tied for third among all players. Playing the offensive role on Alegría he was positioned for, Sola took full advantage of the opportunity, leading the team with 24 shots. His ability to fit in seamlessly on a new team and be a crucial player that pushed Alegría into the finals of the Hurlingham Open displayed his potential as a 9-goal player. After four straight years on an 8-goal handicap in Argentina, Sola now holds 9-goal handicaps in Argentina and the United States. In the 2018 season he will not be on the Alegría roster.
KEY STATS: Facundo Sola
- Increased from 2.2 goals per game in Hurlingham to 3.5 goals per game in Argentine Open
- 3.5 field goals per game (tied for 3rd in Argentine Open behind Polito Pieres and Adolfo Cambiaso)
- Led Alegría with 24 shots
While a lot of focus is often placed on offense, Fred Mannix stood out with his defensive performances, along with his recognition to attack goal when presented with the opportunity. Returning to a 9-goal handicap for the first time since 2015, Mannix was the anchor of the Alegría team, allowing Sapo Caset and Sola to attack relentlessly while protecting against any counter attacks. Outshooting their opponents by 21 shots in the Argentine Open, Alegría relied heavily on the defensive efforts of Mannix as part of their success. He was recently called one of the best backs in the world. His impact went even further than defense, as he averaged 2.3 goals per game in the Argentine Open. He finished with 75% shooting, the third most accurate among all players.
“I’m very proud of my accomplishments this season, and it feels good to be recognized with a handicap raised to 9. It was a good, solid season for me. I didn’t really have any bad games,” said Mannix. “I was well mounted this season, and I will do my utmost best to be even better mounted next year. It’s always the story of ‘more horses and better.’” Looking ahead, he said, “It’s a great responsibility to maintain 9 goals and even push for more, and I will treat the responsibility very seriously.”
The 2018 season will bring new challenges for Mannix and his team in their new configuration as Alegría La Irenita. Both La Irenita and Alegría qualified for the 2018 Triple Crown. Mannix said he is “very excited” about the new partnership, adding, “Only good things can come from it.”
KEY STATS: Fred Mannix
- 75% shooting in Argentine Open (3rd best among all players)
- 2.3 goals per game in Argentine Open
After a successful Triple Crown that saw La Aguada Las Monjitas’ only losses come at the hands of Ellerstina and La Dolfina, the key to their success was a balanced team effort. It was led by Ignacio Novillo Astrada, who returns to a 9-goal handicap after a one-year hiatus at 8 goals.
The best players in the world can anticipate the play at high level, and Novillo Astrada is highly effective at doing so, behind defensive positioning and pinpoint, accurate passing. Utilizing all three of his teammates with an elite passing attack, Novillo Astrada managed the flow of the game in a way seen by the other 9- and 10-goal players in Argentina. Averaging 2.3 goals per game in the Argentine Open, second most on La Aguada LM, Novillo Astrada was able to make his impact on the game in multiple ways, from scoring to winning the 8th most throw-ins among all players. As La Aguada LM continues to work toward 2018 success in Argentina, their newest 9-goaler will need to maintain the elite level that raised his handicap.
KEY STATS: Ignacio Novillo Astrada
- 17 throw-in wins (8th best in Argentine Open)
- 2.3 goals per game
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
3. Results of voting by the players who participated in the Triple Crown
4. Recommendations of the affiliated clubs