By Alex Webbe
Juan Ambroggio scored the first goal of the game in the semifinal of the Prince of Wales Cup Tuesday afternoon on the grounds of the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club for the only score of the opening period to give Sifani (Hilali Noordeen, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Nic Roldan and Juan Ambroggio) the early 1-0 lead over La Indiana (Michael Bickford, Marcos Araya, James Beim and Ruki Baillieu).
La Indiana stormed back in the second chukker with James Beim tying it up at 1-1 on a 40-yard penalty conversion. Another score from Beim was followed by a goal from teammate Ruki Baillieu as La Indiana stretched their lead to two goals, 3-1. Sifani struggled to get their offense in gear as Beim closed out the chukker with his third goal of the game and La Indiana rode off the field with a three goal advantage, 4-1.
The two teams traded goals in the third with Nic Roldan scoring once from the field and converting a short penalty shot to cut the La Indiana lead to a single goal, 4-3. Marcos Araya made it 5-3 with his first goal of the game with under a minute left, and a goal from Beim made it 6-3 La Indiana with ten seconds on the clock.
Sifani dusted themselves off for second half play and took control of the game in the fourth chukker. Matias Torres Zavaleta and Roldan scored two goals apiece while the Sifani defense held La Indiana scoreless for the second time on the day, taking a 7-6 lead into the fifth chukker.
Both defenses tightened up in the fifth. Ambroggio scored the first goal of the period to put Sifani on top, 8-6, but La Indiana fought their way back. Beim kept them in it with his fifth goal on the afternoon. With one chukker left in regulation time Sifani held a delicate one goal edge, 8-7.
A determined La Indiana charged into the final chukker, tying it up on a goal from Araya and moving in front, 9-8 as Baillieu scored for the second time. Sifani had an opportunity to tie it up again on a penalty attempt (60-yard Safety) with 1:35 left, but the shot went wide and La Indiana managed to ride out the clock for the 9-8 win and a spot in the 2014 Prince of Wales final on Saturday.
HB Polo 11, Black Bears 10
Earlier in the day, HB Polo (Ludovic Pailloncy, Ignacio Toccalino, Pite Merlos and Sebastien Pailloncy) and Black Bears (Guy Schwarzenbach, Facundo Sola, John Paul Clarkin and Patrick O’Dwyer) suffered through a dismal Cartier Queens Cup campaign with neither team winning a game (0-4). The Prince of Wales Cup was more than a subsidiary tournament for the two teams; it was a matter of pride.
As luck would have it, the Black Bears lost their fifth consecutive 22-goal match this season. Worse might be the fact that every loss suffered by the Black Bears this season was by a single goal, including today’s Prince of Wales Cup semifinal, 11-10.
The home field held little advantage for the Black Bears as they trailed HB Polo 8-6 at the end of the first half.
Black Bears managed to outscore HB Polo, 2-1 in the fourth chukker but continued to trail, 9-8 as they struggled with Pite Merlos and an oppressive HB Polo defense.
HB Polo added two more scores in the fifth while holding the Black Bears to a single goal from John Paul Clarkin. Time was beginning to run out on the Black Bears as HB Polo moved in front by two goals, 11-9.
A sixth chukker Black Bears rally wasn’t in the cards as drive after drive was turned aside by the HB Polo defense. Clarkin brought them closer with a 40-yard penalty conversion but that was where it ended as HB Polo celebrated the 11-10 victory and an appointment with La Indiana in Saturday’s Prince of Wales Cup final.
Black Bears and Sifani are scheduled to meet in a consolation match earlier in the day.