The 34th annual USABA Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament hosted 28 teams this weekend in Warren, Michigan. As one of the largest goalball tournaments in North America, it’s a staple in the USABA Regionals line up each year.
Split into three divisions – Men’s, Women’s and Men’s Elite – the teams took the courts starting Friday afternoon. Round Robin play continued Saturday and concluded with finals on Sunday morning.
Columbus Chill, GLASA Riptide, NIU Huskies and NJ Thunder emerged to compete in the Men’s semi-finals. GLASA Riptide met Columbus Chill in the bronze medal game and earned the final spot on the podium for this division with a final score of 12-8. Having been playing together for 15 years, Riptide is familiar with the game and this regional tournament. The team is working towards being included in the Men’s Elite bracket and this finish will serve as another step in the right direction.
Veteran team New Jersey Thunder played NIU Huskies, a team only established 2 years ago, in a close game for gold that ended with NJ Thunder winning the men’s division gold medal, 8-7. This is NIU’s first silver medal. When we talked to NIU’s Coach Dan Galvin before the tournament began, he said “we expect NIU to surprise people as they did at Nationals last year. This is a new group of guys who love playing together and are the epitome of “team”. The character they show and the love they have for the game is easy to see. With the addition of pool player Cas Weirda, we truly think we can make some noise.” We’re hearing you loud and clear, Huskies.
Out of the 8 women’s teams that competed this weekend, Georgia Phantoms, GLASA Tsunami, PACS and Rose City Thorns earned the right to continue for a chance at a medal. GLASA Tsunami ended up playing PACS for bronze on Sunday. Though Tsunami was made up of veterans and young up and coming talent, they couldn’t hold off PACS, led by Paralympian Asya Miller, and lost 1-6.
With two Paralympians and two resident goalball athletes, the Georgia Phantoms continue to dominate the goalball court. The Phantoms met Rose City Thorns in the gold medal game on Sunday. Both teams had players who won medals last month at the Montreal Open. It was a high-pressure game with great performances from both teams. The Phantoms earned gold with a final score of 7-4 against the Thorns.
Men’s Elite Division
The Men’s Elite Division pools included 10 teams from across the country and even included two Canadian teams. American teams Crown, NJ Knights, Goon Squad and Omega continued competing into semi-finals in hopes of earning some hardware.
In the bronze medal game, Omega just stayed alive against Crown for a final of 15-6. While we expect to see Omega in the finals each year on their home turf, they’re also hosting the tournament which makes their performance even more impressive.
In a tough game against New Jersey Knights, Goon Squad earned gold after holding off the Knights 9-7. This is the same team that finished second at the Montreal Open last month – Paralympic medalist Andy Jenks and Goalball Center of Excellence resident athletes Calahan Young and Cody Carmicle.
Congratulations to all teams that competed at the 2018 Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament this weekend and a big THANK YOU to the tournament director, Jessica Kusku, her team of tournament coordinators and the countless volunteers who make this regional tournament possible each year.
The next regional tournament, the ABANJ/USABA Northeast Regional, will be hosted in Westmont, New Jersey, April 7-8. This weekend, USABA broadcasted most of the games on our YouTube Channel. We hope to do this at the Northeast Regional as well. Though we experienced technical difficulties on Sunday, pool play games that were held in Gym A at the Midwest Tournament can be viewed on demand here.