Defending world champions, U.S. Women, are proving their strength on the court in Sweden with a 3-0 record so far in round robin play but in Group B, U.S. Men are struggling to keep up with the competition.
Following their first win against Greece on day one, U.S. Women took the court again opposite China. It was a tough game between two very strong teams but in the end, Team USA prevailed. This was their first win against China since the U.S. Women’s Goalball Team topped them in the gold medal game at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
“Not all of us have played China before but we know that USA has not put up a win against them in 10 years,” said two-time Paralympian Amanda Dennis who played the entire game. “It was important to us to go out there and remind China who we are. We had good execution on offense and defense and very good team communication and positivity.”
On their second day of round robin play, U.S. Women continued their winning streak with a 4-2 win over Algeria despite an uncharacteristic high ball penalty on Lisa Czechowski. Dennis and Asya Miller had the goals in this low-scoring game.
It’s been a different story for U.S. Men who faced defending world champions, Brazil, as their first opponents at the tournament. Brazil was ahead 4-1 in the first half with the singular U.S. goal from Grej Pesjaka. Multiple mistakes in the second half, including a missed penalty shot and an own goal lead to a 7-2 loss for U.S. Men. Next up, the U.S. Men faced Germany where they allowed nearly double the goals they scored for another loss of 13-7.
“During the Brazil game, we had some problems with spacing between players,” said U.S. Men’s Goalball player John Kusku. “We made a focus to stay connected on the court to correct that problem. I think in the Germany game, we did a much better job with that.”
The following day, U.S. Men faced Iran where they kept up with the competition and even had a three-point lead on their opponents with three minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, U.S. Men allowed Iran to catch up for a final score of 8-8. U.S. Men are currently 0-2-1 in round robin play.
Team USA is competing against 15 men’s teams and 11 women’s teams at the IBSA Goalball World Championships, June 3-8. A podium finish for both teams would mean becoming one of the first nations to qualify to compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Competition continues tomorrow starting at 8:30 a.m. local (2:30 a.m. ET) when U.S. Men take on Egypt. Watch games and find the full tournament schedule on the event website: http://www.wcg18.se/.