Lechuza Caracas wins Herbie Pennell Cup
by Alex Webbe
Lechuza Caracas (Victor Vargas, Mariano Gracida, Pablo MacDonough and Nico Espain) and Villa Del Lago/Casablanca (Jim Zenni, Agustin Obregon, Polito Pieres and Inaki Laprida) battled to a 5-5 halftime tie in a contest that was knotted up on nine different occasions before Lechuza took control in the final chukker to register a 14-11 win in the final of the 20-goal Herbie Pennell Cup Monday afternoon at the International Polo Club.
Bands of rain forced the postponement of Sunday’s opening day and the tournament final, but Monday’s action more than made up for it.
Four goals were scored in the first four minutes for a 2-2 score, and three sixth chukker goals from MacDonough stretched the Lechuza Caracas 11-10 lead after five chukkers to the formidable 14-11 final score.
Playing in his first game with Lechuza Caracas this season (Eduardo Astrada filled in for MacDonough in the opening match), MacDonough scored the opening goal less than 30 seconds into the game for the early 1-0 lead. Villa Del Lago/Casablanca team captain Jim Zenni tied it up at 1-1 just a minute later. Polito Pieres and Nico Espain exchanged goals to close out the chukker in a 2-2 deadlock.
Both defenses stepped it up in the second period with a single goal from Mariano Gracida putting Lechuza Caracas on top, 3-2.
Espain opened the scoring in the third chukker to extend the Lechuza Caracas lead to two goals, 4-2. Goals from Inaki Laprida and Polito Pieres (penalty conversion) had it all even at 4-4. MacDonough and Pieres traded penalty goals in the final minute-and-a-half of play for the 5-5 halftime tie.
Espain took control of the ball as the second half opened, scoring for the third time to put Lechuza Caracas back in the lead, 6-5. Agustin Obregon leveled the score once again for Villa Del Lago/Casablanca, 6-6, with his first goal of the game. MacDonough took the ensuing throw-in and raced 150 yards for a goal. Lechuza Caracas was in front once again, 7-6. Penalties got Lechuza Caracas in trouble once again with Pieres converting two penalty shots to close out the chukker with Villa Del Lago/Casablanca in the lead, 8-7.
Gracida scored the first goal of the fifth period, racing down the field from the opening throw-in for the tying goal, 8-8, in the first 17 seconds of play. Pieres responded by converting a short penalty shot for a goal and a 9-8 advantage. MacDonough answered back for Lechuza Caracas with a penalty goal of his own for the 9-9 score. MacDonough and Obregon exchanged goals, keeping the game locked up at 10-10 before a last second goal from Espain allowed Lechuza Caracas to ride off the field with a narrow 11-10 lead.
MacDonough was all over the ball as the final chukker began, charging down the field to score just 20 seconds into the period. Pieres tried to get Villa Del Lago/Casablanca back into it as he took control of the ball from the throw-in and raced down the field for a goal. Lechuza Caracas continued to lead but the score was back to a single goal12-11. MacDonough put the finishing touches on the Lechuza Caracas win by scoring the last two goals of the game including a 300-yard run for a goal and a perfectly executed push-n near the goal mouth for the 14-11 victory.
MacDonough led all scoring with eight goals. Espain scored four times and Gracida accounted for two goals in the win. Pieres scored five of his team high seven goals on penalty shots. Obregon added two goals and Zenni and Laprida each added a goal in the loss.
MacDonough was named MVP while Pieres’s Pugliese was honored as Best Playing Pony.
Action in the Joe Barry memorial Cup is slated to begin on Thursday, January 9 with Valiente facing Lechuza Caracas at 1PM followed by a 3PM contest between Las Monjitas and Flight Options.