SANTIAGO, Chile (November 23, 2023) – There was much to be thankful for in Santiago, Chile, on this Thanksgiving Day. The USA Men’s Goalball Team qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games on Thursday and the USA Women’s Goalball Team will have an opportunity to join them on Friday as both teams are advancing to the finals of the 2023 Parapan American Games.
The men’s team defeated Canada in their semifinal match, 11-4, while the women’s team overwhelmed Argentina, 8-1. In Friday’s gold medal final, the U.S. men will take on defending Paralympic champion Brazil, who qualified for Paris by winning the 2022 world championship. The U.S. women will face Canada, who they defeated 5-3 in the opening game of the Parapan American tournament last Saturday.
“I think I’m more excited for my guys,” said Tyler Merren (Greenville, Mich.) about the possibility of making his fifth Paralympic Team. “We’ve been working really hard, training day in and day out. We’ve got six guys who can step out onto the court at any time and make it happen.”
Merren scored the first goal of the game and added two more along the way as the U.S. opened up a 5-1 halftime lead and never looked back. Calahan Young (Pittsburgh, Pa.) led the team with five goals and Christian King (Virginia Beach, Va.) chipped in three of his own.
“We don’t ever take Brazil lightly,” said Merren looking ahead to Friday’s gold medal final. “We don’t look at tomorrow as just a throwaway game. They’ve had our number at this tournament in the past and we want to show up tomorrow and show them that we’re not going away and they’re not the only contenders in this region.”
The U.S. women were also in command of their semifinal win from the opening whistle as they netted the first eight goals of the game before Argentina finally got on the scoreboard in the final four minutes. Lisa Czechowski (Boonton, N.J.) and Eliana Mason (Beaverton, Ore.) paced the attack with three goals each and Amanda Dennis (Peachtree City, Ga.) tallied the other two.
“We are so excited,” said Dennis about being one win away from qualifying for the Paris 2024 Paralympics. “We’ve been looking at Canada a lot. We’re going to go back tonight and analyze our first game against them and make sure that tomorrow we’re ready to play Canada in this important match.”
“It was really easy to motivate the ladies,” said U.S. Head Coach Jake Czechowski. “They were laser-focused from the beginning of our warmup, and they were even more intense when we hit the floor. As the lights get brighter, they get better. Tomorrow is going to be about execution and who can handle that pressure. Something we always say is pressure is a privilege, and we’re privileged to be in that final.”
The women’s gold medal final begins at 2:30 p.m. EST, followed by the men’s gold medal final at 3:45 p.m. EST. Livestream may be available at panamsportschannel.org.