It was a game of defense between U.S. Men and Canada this afternoon in the second semifinal match that would determine which team would advance to the gold medal game against Brazil.
The first goal was scored 9 minutes into the first half, by Canada’s Brendan Gaulin. At the half, Canada led the U.S. Men’s team 1-0. After a high ball penalty against the U.S. early in the second half, the score was 2-0, Canada. Joseph Hamilton scored 2 goals to tie the game and bring the teams into overtime.
With less than 30 seconds left in overtime, the score was tied 2-2. When Matthew Simpson (Smyrna, Ga.) stepped forward to throw, he slipped, sending the ball backwards towards the U.S. goal line. John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.) grabbed the ball and pushed it toward Canada’s defenders in an effort to avoid a 10 second penalty.
“It was a panic play,” said Kusku. “The ball was rolling quietly and it got past their first defender.”
The men’s last minute win in the semifinal match advanced them to the gold medal game against Brazil tomorrow morning. This will be the second time the U.S. Men will play Brazil. In preliminary play, Brazil won, 9-2.
“It is going to take incredible defense and incredible patience on offense,” Kusku said. “They are the best team in the world and we can’t expect to score. We just gotta keep pushing it to them and keep blocking the goalball.”
The U.S. Men will take on Brazil tomorrow morning, August 15, at 11:30 a.m. EST at the Hershey Sports Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
The Parapan American Games serve as a qualification opportunity for goalball teams to secure a spot in Rio 2016’s Paralympic program. Though both U.S. and Brazil’s Men’s and Women’s teams have already qualified, the winner of the Men’s bronze medal match tomorrow morning will determine which team will punch their ticket to Rio tonight. Canada and Argentina will play for bronze at 10:00 a.m. on August 15.