Saturday’s Zone B game in the Hurlingham Open virtual semi-finals will be the clincher that determines whether La Dolfina or Alegría will face Ellerstina in the final October 28.
La Dolfina (3-0) looks to continue their undefeated run through the Triple Crown as they face Alegría, also 3-0. The quartet of 10-goalers for La Dolfina has continued to look as strong as ever, averaging 13 goals per game. Their real strength may lie in their defense, as they have allowed their opponents an average of only 5 goals per game, thanks to the defensive positioning of Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martín Nero.
Unlike the more balanced scoring output for La Dolfina that was seen in the Tortugas Open, Cambiaso has led the way, making 19 of his team’s 39 total goals to date in the Hurlingham Open. Cambiaso’s ability to win games was once again evident in La Dolfina’s most recent game against La Irenita. He finished with 11 goals, five of which came from the penalty line. Opponents have difficulty matching the pace at which La Dolfina plays. The ball rarely slows, and their quick transition from defense to offense creates scoring chances throughout the game.
Coming in with a team handicap of 35 goals, Alegría has the ability to match La Dolfina, especially at the offensive end with their squadron of elite scorers: Hilario Ulloa, Sapo Caset and Facundo Sola. Alegría displayed an unstoppable offense in their 18-5 massacre of La Irenita, but they struggled to take an 8-7 victory over La Albertina Abu Dhabi.
When at their best Alegría uses quick backhands and has Ulloa and Caset running onto passes downfield. The leading scorer to date of the 2017 Hurlingham Open with 25 goals, Caset is a constant target downfield and has been effective from the field as well as the penalty line. His big challenge in Saturday’s game will be breaking through La Dolfina’s stonewall (Nero). Fred Mannix has been a consistent defensive presence throughout the season for Alegría, often transitioning his team from defense to offense. Against La Dolfina, Mannix will have his hands full with David Stirling and Pablo MacDonough, along with watching for Cambiaso coming forward.
For Alegría to prevail over La Dolfina, the offensive combo of Caset, Ulloa and Sola must find a way to get past the defensive efforts of Nero and Cambiaso—much easier said than done. While pushing forward on the attack, Alegría needs to maintain their awareness of a quick transition and counterattack by La Dolfina, a move that has caught nearly every opponent off guard. Even though Alegría knows what will be coming, they can’t know when, and La Dolfina’s lightning-fast shifts can be dizzying. Neutralizing them requires a hair-trigger reaction time, or even better, a turbo-charged crystal ball.
-La Dolfina has averaged 13 goals per game; teams have averaged only 5 goals against them.
-Adolfo Cambiaso made 19 of La Dolfina’s 39 total goals to date.
-In his last game, Cambiaso made 11 goals individually (5 from the penalty line).
-Alegría’s Sapo Caset is leading tournament scorer to date: 25 total goals.
Photo by Katerina Morgan