Defending champion King Power Foxes suffered another narrow defeat in the 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup, downed 9-8 by El Remanso in the final day of league play. In Wednesday’s other match Habtoor defeated La Bamba de Areco 12-9, with the latter eliminated from the tournament. As a result the quarterfinal pairings this weekend will be: El Remanso v. Monterosso, and La Indiana v. Sommelier (Saturday). Habtoor play RH Polo, and King Power Foxes oppose Talandracas (Sunday).
Wednesday’s first game came down to two main factors: the concerted effort of El Remanso to slow down the individual attacks of the Pieres brothers and missed opportunities for King Power Foxes. Most of their slip-ups came late in the game, with King Power missing 7 of their last 10 shots.
In their trademark style, El Remanso’s 4-man game bagged the goods. Ollie Cudmore made 3 goals, and each of his teammates (James Beim, James Harper and Charlie Hanbury) contributed 2. Hanbury had a very good game and was active defensively. As a 4-goal player, lower-handicapped players usually mark him, so when he plays well it makes a big difference.
Throughout the game the El Remanso defense swarmed King Power, making it difficult for Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres to attack individually. Beim focused almost nonstop on being a stick of Gorilla Glue on Facundo, holding him up so his El Remanso teammates could come assist him on defense.
King Power, meanwhile, never quite used long passes to open up space for themselves and speed up the game. The score was tied at 5 at halftime, and from there El Remanso continually spanked it up. By the middle of the sixth chukka El Remanso had notched 4 more goals and allowed King Power Foxes only 1 (9-6 for El Remanso).
Cudmore and Harper were demons in the sixth, going to the speedstick and making individual goals. After a steal Cudmore centered the ball and shot. When he didn’t get the angle he needed he swung at it again, delivering a cut shot so steep few would have attempted it—and even fewer would have succeeded. Harper delivered the next goal after a superbly composed solo rampage down the field, with King Power patron Top Srivaddhanaprabha gaining ground on him in the final stretch. Harper looked like he was out on the stick-and-ball field having a blast, playing a game of polo with himself. On a long run he hit the ball ahead 5 times in a row in equally measured strokes, and it politely rolled into goal.
Then, as King Power is known to do, they shook it off and flourished when the pressure was on. With a minute-and-a-half left Facundo and Gonzalito each made a goal. But it was too little too late. El Remanso won 12-9.
“As a team I think we played really well and made it difficult for King Power to score,” said Cudmore. “It gives us confidence going into the quarterfinal.”
King Power Foxes made 7/15 shots (47%)
El Remanso shot 8/14 (57%)
Facundo Pieres shot 5/9, Gonzalito 1/3
Cudmore 3/3, Harper 1/2, Beim 2/6
Only 2 penalty shots the entire game (both teams 1-for-1)
King Power won 16 of the last 21 throw-ins. Extra possessions should have helped them control open play, but they couldn’t capitalize on them.
All Photography by Snoopy Productions
All 2017 Gold Cup games are being live streamed on pololine.tv.
Complete tournament schedule and daily game locations can be found here.