It has been a long tournament for the U.S. Women who started preliminary play exactly one week ago at the Rio Paralympic Games. Through five games, the U.S. Women’s Goalball team has shown patience and endurance by keeping a solid wall of defense against opponents but tonight, Turkey’s top scorer, Sevda Altunoluk, broke through their wall. Altunoluk is also the top scorer in the tournament so far.
Turkey scored on Team USA in the first minute and continued to break past their defense a total of five times before the end of the first half. Asya Miller was able to get one pitch past Turkey’s right wing but that would be the only goal Team USA would score against Turkey in this semifinal game. Altunoluk and her teammate, Seda Yildiz, scored another 5 goals in the second half, ending the game in a mercy with 4:37 left in the game.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with tonight’s result,” said Assistant Head Coach Jake Czechowski. “All the credit goes to Turkey. However, we’re going to refocus and regroup, and get excited and ready to play Brazil.”
U.S. Women will play Brazil for a spot on the Paralympic podium in Rio tomorrow. The teams played each other to open the tournament on September 8. Brazil won the game 7-3 to the thunderous cheers from an arena full of local fans.
“They present a different challenge,” said Czechowski. “But we’re able to make the adjustments we need to make to come away with a medal. We’re very excited about that opportunity.”
“We just need to refocus,” said Lisa Czechowski. “We need to regroup and get back out there and do what we know we can do – which is play solid defense.”
The team will need to refocus quickly as they play Brazil tomorrow at 1:30pm BRT but the team, including first time Paralympian, Eliana Mason, seem to get that the focus shifts just slightly – to a different color medal.
“We came here to get a medal and we’re going leave with one,” said Mason.