U.S Men’s Goalball stood strong against the competition this weekend at the Vancouver Goalball Grand Slam. The tournament brought together 8 teams from 3 countries for 20 goalball games starting Friday, March 18. The U.S. men split into two teams (USA 1 and USA 2) to take on British Columbia, Finland, Quebec, Alberta and hosts, Vancouver. Team USA 1’s roster was comprised of Joe Hamilton, John Kusku, Tyler Merren, Daryl Walker and Coach Matthew Boyle. Team USA 2’s roster included Andy Jenks, Abel Del Toro, Grej Pesjaka, Matt Simpson and Coach Mike Legé.
USA 2 remained undefeated after the first day of competition but fell to their first lost against reigning World Champions, Finland on the second day of the tournament. USA 1 went into playoffs as a number one seed. The two USA teams met in semifinals after beating Vancouver and British Columbia in the quarterfinals. The game would determine which USA team would play for GOLD and which would fight for BRONZE.
Coach Mike Legé’s team, USA 2, won and advanced to the gold medal game against Finland. Though the game was tied before the half, Finland pulled ahead (7-5) and kept the lead to win GOLD (9-6).
“The rematch against Finland was a better played game then the first time in pool play. The match was close until the last 3 minutes of the game. It was good experience for our younger players to play against such a quality team” said Coach Lege’. “I was disappointed that our #1 team did not get to play Finland but they did finish strong in the bronze match.”
Coach Matthew Boyle’s team USA 1 beat Alberta 12-2 to secure BRONZE for Team USA.
“This was the first tournament of its kind with prize money. I hope in the future more teams from Europe will attend. The tournament organizer put on a very well run tournament and the venue was excellent; hats off to BC for a job well done.”
As the first annual Vancouver Grand Slam hosted by the Vancouver Goalball Club, all 8 teams competed for the chance to win GOLD. As if winning gold wasn’t enough, the winning team was also awarded a grand sum of $5,000 as a prize money award. During the tournament, all games were broadcast by Disability Sports Radio including the final game that left Finland prevailing to win GOLD and the grand prize money.