“No puede ser! No puede ser!” (It can’t be!)
The roar cascaded down to Brooks field like an avalanche from the hilltop where a smattering of King Power and La Indiana players were watching the last excruciating moments of the RH Polo vs. Monterosso match. Having just duked it out between themselves (King Power defeated La Indiana 9-7 in the first Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup game of the day), a communal gasp arose when the underdog pulled the rug out from under all-time polo great Adolfo Cambiaso.
To call Monterosso’s 10-9 win Wednesday an upset victory over 2017 Cartier Queen’s Cup champion RH Polo would be the understatement of the century. A new team to the Gold Cup, Monterosso lost all four of their league matches (albeit some by a tight margin) in the Queen’s Cup. They came into Wednesday’s game blind, never having gone up against RH Polo.
So how did a team like Monterosso outplay the Cambiaso contingent? By accomplishing something other teams have struggled with: keeping pace with RH Polo in open play. Monterosso shot 7 for 11 (64%), compared to 7 of 15 for RH Polo (47%). RH’s style throughout the entire first half was exactly how they performed throughout the Queen’s Cup: Cambiaso controlled the flow of play, Rodrigo Andrade attacked aggressively and Tommy Beresford was effective at finishing up front. Behind a balanced attack (3 goals from Andrade; 2 each from Cambiaso and Beresford), RH was looking good at halftime, leading 7-3. But that was the last time Cambiaso would make it onto the scoreboard; he was shut out for the entire second half.
Monterosso came back from halftime a different team. They dominated the fourth chukka 4-1, with 3 goals from the field by Ignacio “Cubi” Toccalino and a penalty 4 conversion for Santiago Toccalino. Two of Cubi’s goals came directly from throw-ins, with RH Polo not prepared defensively. His third was on an amazing effort, fighting through a bump from Cambiaso to score on a neck shot.
Monterosso’s tsunami-sized surge in the fourth and fifth chukkas gave them 6 additional goals and a game-altering psychological edge over RH Polo. RH began to press more and try to force the issue, but that seemed to overextend them. They got caught attacking offensively, with Cambiaso sitting back to defend, which allowed Monterosso to break away. Monterosso scored on a series of long runs into goal, including an exquisite flight in each of the last two chukkas by Matt Perry, who swooped around Andrade to bring his team into the lead for the first time.
Then the unthinkable happened: Cambiaso missed on a safety in the last 20 seconds, which would have tied the score. The game ended 10-9 for Monterosso.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup resumes this weekend. On Saturday Sommelier plays Talandracas at 3 p.m., and Sunday features a double-header: RH Polo vs. Murus Sanctus at noon and King Power Foxes vs. La Bamba de Areco at 3 p.m for The Midhurst Town Cup. Times are local.
All 2017 Gold Cup games are being live streamed on pololine.tv by polocam.tv
Full game schedule can be found here.