This is the first in a series about players who have distinguished themselves not only as 10-goalers, but as masters of a specific skill that is key to a team’s success. First up is Sapo Caset, top scorer of the 2018 Argentine season.
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All 10-goal players are elite athletes, but even among them there is a hierarchy. There’s that echelon of 10s who have seen it all, done it all, won it all, and then there’s the battalion of newer 10s who are extremely talented but still have something to prove.
And now there’s Sapo Caset, who has carved out a category of his own within the rarified galaxy of 10-goalers: elite scorer. No surprise that the usual top-10s went home from Palermo with all the opinion-based awards from the Open—MVP (Adolfo Cambiaso); BPP (B09, an AC pony), Fair Play award (Juanma Nero) and Best Mounted Player (AC for the final and Facundo Pieres for the championship). But the awards that are based purely on numbers went to Caset: top scorer of both the Triple Crown and the Argentine Open.
With 85 goals in the 2018 Triple Crown and 46 in the Argentine Open, Caset set himself apart from his two nearest-scoring rivals in the Open: Cambiaso (39 goals) and Diego Cavanagh (24). Per game in the Open, Caset averaged 9.2 goals, Cambiaso 7.8 and Cavanagh 6.0.
His consistency was a strong indicator of what Caset brought to the party, especially in the Open. In each of his five games he never scored fewer than seven goals. That really says something, especially in light of the fact that two of those games were against 40-goal monster teams.
In the two most crucial games of the season Caset carried his team offensively, making 10 goals both times (semi-final victory over Ellerstina and final loss to La Dolfina). In those games he was also clutch from the penalty line, converting 9 of his 11 penalty shots. He clearly thrived under the pressure, a quality he has long demonstrated. He consistently works on mental exercises that quiet his mind and heighten his focus when he’s about to take a critical shot.
With his leadership, the reconfigured Las Monjitas made an impressive debut in Argentina, finishing third overall in the rankings. The Open in particular showcased their mettle. La Dolfina won only one more throw-in (16/15) than Las Monjitas did, had one fewer foul (13/14), and averaged 90 percent from the penalty line compared to La Monjitas’ 80 percent.
Although they didn’t prevail in Palermo, for the first few chukkers of the final Caset’s team gave La Dolfina something they don’t often get: a good scare. Las Monjitas came out like gangbusters and led 6-3 at the end of the second chukker, and at halftime the score was tied at 6. Then La Dolfina started playing like La Dolfina, and as we all know, there is little that can be done about that.
Next in Part 2: Why Eduardo Heguy considers Caset the “key player of the season.”
SAPO’S SEASON RANKINGS
Here’s a breakdown of how Caset performed in Argentina. His rise in rankings from Tortugas to Hurlingham to Palermo shows his upward trajectory over the season:
Goals per game: Tied 2nd in Tortugas, 1st in Hurlingham, 1st in Argentine Open
Shots per game: 5th in Tortugas, 2nd in Hurlingham, 3rd in Argentine Open
Field goals per game: Outside top 10 in Tortugas, 5th in Hurlingham, 2nd in Argentine Open
Penalty goals per game: Tied 7th in Tortugas, tied 2nd in Hurlingham, 1st in Argentine Open
Photography & Video: Helen Cruden & ESPN Polo