The stage was set on Saturday for a final of epic proportions in the 117th Argentina Polo Championship. The players were fired up, the ponies were ready, the stands were packed and history was ready to be made. And then, two and one-half minutes into the first chukker, a thunderstorm erupted and play was suspended until Sunday. Ellerstina took an early 2-1 lead on goals from Gonzalo and Facundo Pieres, while Cambiaso’s penalty was the last goal of the day.
The players, fans and ESPN’s HD cameras returned on Sunday for the conclusion of what was one of the greatest finals of the last decade. It was a beautiful, fast-paced match with five lead changes, only five penalty goals and the other twenty-two scored in play. It was also a match of La Dolfina 3-goal streaks which they pulled off three times in the 1st, 3rd/4th and the critical 5th. But it was the 6th chukker that defined the match, the season and the amazing balance of Ellerstina. Four goals: 1:18 – MacDonough, 2:40 – Nero, 3:48 – Facu and 5:39 – Gonzalito, who picked a good day to have the match of his life.
The 12-10 lead proved too much for La Dolfina, although Cambiaso did everything in his power and played brilliantly in the 7th when he scored two goals, but probably should have been credited with four. His penalty shot at 0:00 was ruled wide-left by the official and his shot of the match at 2:08 was tapped in at the goal by a waiting Castagnola. Ellerstina only needed one penalty shot in the 8th to seal the victory and clinch the fourth Triple Crown in history. A fitting send-off for the 40-handicap team of the year who will now disband as new teams are formed for the coming three seasons.
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