Both U.S. Men’s and Women’s Goalball Teams stood proudly on the medal podium this weekend at the 2015 Parapan American Games to accept medals for their outstanding performance in the week-long tournament.
The U.S. Women’s team advanced to the gold medal match yesterday after beating host, Canada in the last 12 seconds of the game. The team then lost to Brazil. 7-6, and won silver for Team USA.
Unfortunately, while their offense excelled, defensively, the team struggled.
“I don’t think our defensive mojo was alright today,” said Miller. “It wasn’t typical Team USA defense today, unfortunately.”
The U.S. Men’s team also struggled to defend Brazil’s powerfully executed throws. The men’s Brazilian team allowed an average of only two goals per game to opponents. The U.S. Men’s team was able to score 4 goals on Brazil in the final game.
“Their defense is spectacular,” said Joseph Hamilton (Sacramento, Calif.). “It’s no accident that they only gave up two goals on average per game against their opponents. But we were able to have a couple of good bounces and get a couple of good corner shots in, about half a foot to a foot from the sideline. And that’s a tough shot too in goalball – to throw and also to defend.”
The stands in the arena were filled with spectators this morning for the gold medal game between U.S. Men and Brazil. Hamilton, John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.) and Matthew Simpson (Smyrna, Ga.) started for the U.S. The three were able to defend Brazilian offense for the first 8 minutes before Brazil’s was able to break through.
At the half, the U.S. brought in a new combination – Donte’ Mickens (Delray Beach, Fla.), Daryl Walker (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Andrew Jenks (Wilmington, Del.). Mickens scored on a high ball penalty while Walker scored a full strength goal with 1:49 left in the game.
Ultimately, Brazil’s offense broke through U.S. defense for a total of 10 goals, resulting in a final score of 10-4. The men shook hands and congratulated each other for the solid competition before accepting their silver medals.
Since both teams had already qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games next summer, they did not have the added pressure of securing a spot. The teams will meet again one year from now on Brazil’s soil.
“We look forward to playing them again in the future,” said Asya Miller (Portland, Ore.) of the U.S. Women’s team. “We’ve got to make sure our minds are good defensively.”
“It’s all about your preparation,” said Hamilton. “One of the things we wanted, coming here, was the chance to play them twice. We see how accurate and how hard they can throw, how well they work together. How deceptive they are with where they block the ball and where they throw the ball so now that we have a taste of what their capabilities are, we have a chance to go back to our lab and see what kind of scientific methods we can cook up to be ready for them [next year].”