Women’s Polo World Cup: With victory over undefeated Italy, Argentina are finalists in Palermo

“Come on, let’s go, Argentinaaa, come on, let’s go, let’s win…”. The coach Milo Fernandez Araujo, a polo heavyweight, and all the substitutes jumped up with their arms around each other, celebrating. There were a few seconds left, but a 7 to 0.5 in the result did not lead to a return of Italy. The Argentina reached the end of the first Women’s Polo World Cupand immediately a celebration of just under football by hundreds in the stands accompanied the final bell.

This is how the second semi-final of the tournament was experienced, which takes place on court 2 of palermo. For the protagonists, it’s a big tournament, a huge step in their sport. For viewers, new in most cases, a curiosity, a pleasure and a way to accompany the girls who are growing up. And for the organization, a success in attendance and distribution, beyond a few sporting problems to be corrected.

Agustin Imaz attacks and leaves behind Alice Coria; there were a lot of people on field 2 of the Campo Argentino de Polo.LANACION/Sergio Llamara

The Argentina national team, which, not because it is Argentinian or local, is heavily favored in the sport that its country largely dominates, will define the World Cup this Saturdayversus United Stateswho a little before and on the same stage exceeded Englandwith short margin: 4 to 3. The hosts and the Americans will play the Gold Cup final just after the Italians and the English settled for third place, for the Silver Cup.

The team led by Fernández Araujo, former 10 handicap, three-time Argentine Open champion as a player and technical director of La Dolfina, super champion for the past nine years, was vastly superior to Italy. Incredibly superior. In fact, he only got a half-goal lead, due to the difference in handicaps (16 against 15). And the Azure they were the only ones to have won their two games in the championship. The distance was noticeable not only on the board, but also on the field: the light blue and white polo players kept their opponents in their own half most of the time. The Europeans came mostly with a few breakouts, rather than elaborate pieces. The Argentines did not allow them.

Milo is not a super expansive guy. He lives things more on the inside, and at 55 he’s more about organizing than being a fan. That’s why it was surprising to see him jumping with the substitutes, shouting like the others, while the starters were still clashing on the pitch. “I expected an equal game. I know I have the best team. I know, because we have been working for 45 days. We weren’t so lucky in the horse draw.But look: with attitude, that’s it“, he said THE NATION. That’s not usually how he leads Adolfo Cambiaso and La Dolfina, the best polo team of the last decade, perhaps in history. That boil you showed on Court 2 this Thursday rarely shows up in any of the Grand Finals on Court 1. “No! The Dolfina is easier”, he laughs heartily, happy.

Milo Fernández Araujo, who is the technical director of La Dolfina, is very committed to women's polo and is the national coach;  in this case, he poses with the team that disputed and won the 2021 Nations Cup: Paulina Vasquetto, Azucena Uranga, Milagros Sánchez and Lía Salvo.
Milo Fernández Araujo, who is the technical director of La Dolfina, is very committed to women’s polo and is the national coach; in this case, he poses with the team that disputed and won the 2021 Nations Cup: Paulina Vasquetto, Azucena Uranga, Milagros Sánchez and Lía Salvo.AAP

The former number 3 of the Indios Chapaleufú II is the father of two players, and good ones. But Candelaria (9) and Milagros (7) are not in the World Cup, because it’s too small for them – the handicap limit is 16 per team. That’s not to say his dad isn’t involving him, once again, in favor of polo.

Of its realization, the best is Camille LaviniaWorld Cup at its… 16 years old. It is the one with the highest value of the workforce (6 goals in women’s handicap) and the most remarkable against Italy, with a lot of contact with the ball, three goals from live balls and two from penalties, good punches and a corner that almost did not end between the wickers. A bit difficult at this level, as the ball is 60 yards from the baseline and oblique to the arc. “It’s a great happiness. There are two Argentinians on the other side and we knew they were playing very well. The game was intense,” the number 3 said, alluding to Maitena Marre Yes Camille Rossithe compatriots who, nationalized Italians, defended the tricolor flag and were visitors to their own land.

Catalina Lavinia is the player with the highest handicap in the Argentina team (6 women's goals), despite being 16 years old.
Catalina Lavinia is the player with the highest handicap in the Argentina team (6 women’s goals), despite being 16 years old.LANACION/Sergio Llamara

Lavinia plays in Capilla del Señor, along with her sisters. He has two years left in high school and he doesn’t know what his school life will be like, but he clearly knows what he wants to do in sports. “I’m going to want to devote myself to this, but I’m going to have to study something. I still don’t know what, but I have two years to think. I’m going to do something…”, she had the freshness of adolescent joy, surrounded by a crowd that wanted to greet and congratulate her. “It’s the biggest celebration so far, because we have reached the final. But I hope that on Saturday there will be even more celebrations”, wished Camila.

Beyond the winners and losers, it breathes in the contest: joy. Happy players – more, those who win, of course, but all of them –, a comfortable audience in the stands – with temperature and sunshine to match –, a well-presented environment. The only thing that is in the must is the quality of the horses, indicated by several teams, obtained by the organization and supplied to each team as fairly as possible. A factor to correct.

Catalina Lavinia was the best in the second semi-final;  in this action, she surpasses Camila Rossi, an Argentine nationalized Italian.
Catalina Lavinia was the best in the second semi-final; in this action, she surpasses Camila Rossi, an Argentine nationalized Italian.LANACION/Sergio Llamara

The first Women’s Polo World Cup has finalists. And even before its definition, an a priori excess balance.

Number 3 against number 3: Lavinia tries to stop Maitena Marré, the other Argentine who played for Italy.
Number 3 against number 3: Lavinia tries to stop Maitena Marré, the other Argentine who played for Italy.LANACION/Sergio Llamara

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