It’s pretty hard to lose when your team has a 12-goal advantage over your opponent—which means La Dolfina and Ellerstina are looking good to rack up double-digit blowouts this weekend in the Hurlingham Open. The two 40-goal Magilla Gorillas don’t have a lot to worry about when the “Z” plays La Ensenada (28 goals) on Saturday and LD plays La Canada Daily Racing Form (27) on Sunday. These games have the biggest handicap differences of any matchups in the tournament.
But then again, polo is more than a mathematical equation. In the most recent game Wednesday, a significant disparity in handicap (9-goal difference) didn’t stop 31-goal La Albertina from scaring the pants off La Dolfina. This was the game of the week. Even though La Dolfina took the cake 13-8, the game played out far more closely than the 5-goal difference reflected. La Albertina gave La Dolfina a very hard time throughout the game and seemed destined for an upset until late in the game.
La Albertina remained within one goal all the way through the fifth chukker and only trailed by 2 goals (10-8) after the sixth. Alfredo Cappella was exceptional for La Albertina. Crucial defensively, he hit a slew of backhands with his trademark long-distance reach, which forced La Dolfina to retreat and restart their attack.
Then along came the Halloween nightmare known as Adolfo Cambiaso, who did what he gets a big kick out of doing: stay under the radar long enough to make you wonder if he’s in the same game, and then blast out of nowhere as though he had just chugged 10 cans of Red Bull. In the final chukker he leapt from the back of the game to a true #1 position, driving the La Dolfina offense forward and eventually pulling off a game-high 8 goals of his own.
Coming off their superb performance against La Dolfina, on Saturday La Albertina faces a Las Monjitas team that is 2-0 with an exciting new lineup featuring Santiago Toccalino. Las Monjitas will be pushing hard for the win to get to 3-0 and set up their virtual semifinals game against La Dolfina on October 28, when they go for a spot in the final.
La Aguada, who is also undefeated, is similarly situated to Las Monjitas. In their game this Saturday against Alegria La Irenita, La Aguada is looking to advance to 3-0 to set up their virtual semifinals game against Ellerstina on October 27. Evenly matched in team handicaps (La Aguada 33, Alegria 32), Alegria will be looking for their first win in the tournament.
Ellerstina has been very strong and is no doubt ravenous to bounce back from their stinging loss to La Dolfina in the Tortugas Open final. In an all-around dominant performance in their game against Alegria La Irenita on Tuesday, Ellerstina raced out to a 6-0 lead before the end of the first chukker. Ellerstina displayed a supremely balanced attack that had all four players rotating effectively and leaving Alegria-La Irenita mismatched to mark them. An aggressive defense from Ellerstina smothered the Alegria-La Irenita offense, which was struggling to string together multiple passes. Even though Alegria-La Irenita shot 6-for-7, they just couldn’t slow the Ellerstina train, as the latter outshot them 25-7.
An interesting lineup shift saw Julian de Lusarreta jump saddles from Las Monjitas to La Dolfina Polo Ranch, where he is playing in place of Jejo Taranco, who was injured in the first game. Las Monjitas replaced de Lusarreta with Santiago Toccalino, who is more of a typical #4 and should stand them in good stead defensively when they come up against La Dolfina in the virtual semis.
After struggling early in the tournament, La Dolfina PR had their best performance to date in their game Tuesday, defeating La Ensenada 17-10. La Dolfina Polo Ranch made a conscious effort (and a wise decision) to slow La Ensenada’s Juan Britos, who had come in averaging 7 goals per game. With Ignatius Du Plessis and de Lusarreta defending the backhand, it kept La Ensenada in check, allowing Terrera to attack relentlessly. La Dolfina PR’s Guillermo Terrera led all players with 7 field goals, and Diego Cavanagh (who the Brits like to call “The Weapon”) also contributed 7 goals (6 of them from the penalty line).
Photography: Helen Cruden