Sapo Caset and Hilario Ulloa gave Tonkawa and Modere, respectively, a magic carpet ride into the final of the 2018 Joe Barry Cup. Even so, without major chemistry among his teammates, even a 10-goaler can’t win a game. It may have looked that way in the semis, when Caset and Ulloa made eight goals apiece, but they didn’t pull it off single-handedly. They had the same support that will be crucial in determining who stands on the winners’ podium this Sunday.
It is expected to be a high-scoring game, with both teams coming in undefeated and ranked first (Tonkawa) and second (Modere) in field goals per game. No doubt it will be played at warp speed, with Tonkawa the strongest team thus far from the field, scoring 2.5 more field goals per game than Modere. However, with both teams surprisingly first and second in number of fouls committed per game, Caset and Ulloa may go head-to-head from the penalty line, where Ulloa currently holds a slight advantage. Both teams will need to take advantage of any opportunities, as the outcome could rest on one or two plays in a game between two well-deserved finalists.
Leading the Joe Barry Cup with 13 goals per game thanks to their 17-goal explosion in their semifinal game against La Indiana, Tonkawa’s offense has been electric behind the combo of Sapo Caset and Julian de Lusarreta. Tasked with playing the #4 position, de Lusarreta has been effective at protecting the back end of the game and allowing Caset to relentlessly attack forward.
A versatile player, de Lusarreta is equally effective attacking. That was on full display in Tonkawa’s last game, when he made four goals in the opening two chukkers on a combination of long shots and runs to goal. He will have a difficult task defensively against Ulloa, but if de Lusarreta can contribute offensively as he did against La Indiana, Tonkawa’s attack would be nearly unstoppable. The interplay between Caset and de Lusarreta creates quick attacks for Tonkawa, with teammates Sterling Giannico and Jeff Hildebrand finishing their opportunities downfield and providing another dynamic to Tonkawa.
Tonkawa’s performance Sunday will in large part depend on the driving force of Caset, who ranks second among all players with 26 goals and 6.5 goals per game. Coming off an exceptional Argentine Triple Crown, where he led all players in scoring, Caset has taken that momentum into the U.S. high-goal season. Strong defensively, Caset drives forward from the back at an incredible speed that leaves the defense chasing, a scenario that could foil M?dere. The pressure Caset imposes has forced opponents into fouls. He has been 100% on his penalty 2 and 3s.
The target for Tonkawa will be Hilario Ulloa. He has scored 21 goals, third highest among all players in the tournament. Ulloa is capable of breaking out at any moment and poses a major threat, with his average 5.3 goals per game and 90% shooting on penalty 2, 3 and 4s. This year’s Modere team provides him with significant depth in Agustin Obregon and Jared Zenni, who have contributed 10 goals apiece. Their power allows Ulloa to control the flow of play, utilizing his teammates more on the offensive side of the field.
Obregon is a popular receiving target of Ulloa. Obregon has been exceptional at working hard to create space in the middle of the field and then releasing downfield for the pass. Shooting 53% from the field, he has taken advantage of his opportunities offensively and helps stretch the field. He will be active in the final, pressuring Sapo Caset and Julian de Lusarreta on the ball and forcing them to defend him downfield. Tonkawa plays at a fast pace, which will put pressure on Modere defensively, but Ulloa’s ability to use his teammates could give Modere the edge.
Photos by David Lominska
Stats Charts Courtesy USPA