SANTIAGO, Chile (November 21, 2023) – The USA Goalball women’s team completed play in the group stage of the 2023 Parapan American Games with a perfect 3-0 record after handing Peru a 9-1 defeat on Tuesday in Santiago, Chile. As the #1 seed in Group D, the U.S. will face Guatemala, the #4 seed from Group C in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.
Another balanced attack was the key to the U.S. success against Peru as the team received four goals from Amanda Dennis (Peachtree City, Ga.), three from Eliana Mason (Beaverton, Ore.) and two from Lisa Czechowski (Boonton, N.J.).
The team also received steady contributions from Tokyo Paralympian Mindy Cook (Columbus, Ohio) at the center position. Cook played the majority of the last two games at center with the team giving up just two goals in back-to-back 9-1 victories over Chile on Monday and Peru today.
“Goalball is such a physical sport,” said U.S. Head Coach Jake Czechowski. “You need to have great athletes on the entire roster. Mindy allows us to have two high-quality centers so I can interchange our lineups and get some of our starters extra rest. Her ability to come in and play lockdown defense like that only makes us better, deeper and stronger.”
For Cook, a member of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Team, this marks her first Parapan American Games experience, and the workload the past two days doesn’t seem to have taken a toll on her in the least.
“I feel so good. It’s been such a great experience to be here,” Cook said. “I have such great veterans behind me. They are so supportive on and off the court and they are the best teammates I could ask for.”
The U.S. team heads into Wednesday’s quarterfinal round with some good momentum after outscoring their opponents 23-5 over the first three games.
“We feel confident. We feel ready,” added Cook. “We know that there’s going to be a lot of great competition going into quarters and semis and then the finals, but we know we have this, we prepared, and we have a gameplan and our coaches have really prepared us for this moment and we’ve been training super hard and we know we’re ready.”
The U.S. men face Colombia in Wednesday’s quarterfinals at 2:00 p.m. EST, followed by the women’s quarterfinal against Guatemala at 4:30 p.m. EST.
The women’s team can qualify for the Paris Paralympic Games by finishing first at the Parapan American Games, while the U.S. men can qualify by either finishing first or second to Brazil who have already qualified.