By: Courtney Patterson
TORONTO (August 12, 2015) – The U.S. Women’s Goalball Team defended their World title while the Men put up their first shutout of the tournament against Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Men’s Team took a cue from the U.S. Women and shutout Puerto Rico this morning, 10-0, with less than 2 minutes remaining in the first half. Daryl Walker (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored the final goal that sealed the deal for the men.
“It felt really good,” said Walker, about scoring the tenth goal to close out the game. “I’ve been trying to figure out what my role has been on the team. At Worlds, I was known as the player that would come off the bench to help with the clutch shots. It felt good to get my shot today. A lot of my shots have been close. I hit the post several times in previous games. I felt good about getting this one.”
The U.S. Men’s team finished preliminary play with 3 wins, and 2 losses to Canada and Brazil. The men will play Canada in the first round of semifinals on Friday at 2:30 p.m. EST. The winner of that game will advance to the men’s bronze medal match, which will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Since it is a single pool of teams, the men have played all potential competition already. There shouldn’t be any surprises, so the team will prepare accordingly.
“We’ll probably do a film session tonight in preparation for practice tomorrow and maybe another one tomorrow night,” said U.S. Men’s Assistant Coach, Matthew Boyle (Sacramento, Calif.)
Plus, Walker says, the team has a knack for unifying when a game is on the line.
“The greatest asset of our team is that we have this ability to come together when the time is right. In that clutch position, especially in the last 3 or 2 minutes of the game, that’s when everybody is on the same page. We have the mentality of ‘just play defense, play under control and we’ll win this game’.”
Though there is always room for improvement in their play as a team, Walker says they play as a cohesive unit.
The highly anticipated match between U.S. Women, the defending World Champions, and Canada was later in the afternoon. Lisa Czechowski (Tucson, Ariz.) scored the final goal for the U.S. resulting in a 5-2 win over Canada.
“It’s really fun to play against [Canada]. They’re competitive and it’s just an exciting game,” said Czechowski. “It felt really good [to score the final goal]. They have excellent defense so it’s always exciting to get something through them. Our continued philosophy of ‘defense first’ and accuracy and keeping with our shots won us the game.”
To say the teams are familiar with each other is an understatement. The U.S. and Canada play each other in tournaments often. In fact, the U.S. Women’s team will play Canada in their first semifinal match on Friday at 11:30 a.m. EST.
“We have a vast amount of experience playing Canada so I don’t think they are going to surprise us,” said Czechowski’s teammate, Asya Miller. “We know they are going to come at us. We know they throw well. We know they have good defense. But we know all of that.”
“It will be a really competitive, fun game,” said Czechowski.
Having already qualified both teams for the Games in Rio next summer, both Men’s and Women’s teams do not have the added pressure Canada does. Canadian Men’s and Women’s teams have the potential to secure a spot in Rio by winning a medal match here in Toronto. U.S. Men’s Coach, Matthew Boyle, counts this as an advantage.
“Being in a relaxed mental state and not feeling the pressure of having to qualify for Rio allows both teams to focus on playing,” said Boyle.
Both Men’s and Women’s teams will play Canada on Friday in semifinal games that will determine medal game placement. All goalball teams will enjoy a day of rest on Thursday in preparation for the semifinals and finals on Friday and Saturday. For the full 2015 Parapan American Games Goalball schedule, visit the Link will open in a new windowToronto 2015 website.