Aug 15, 2015

2015 Parapan Ams –Day Eight: U.S. Men’s Goalball Team Join U.S. Women on the Podium

By: Courtney Patterson

TORONTO (August 15, 2015) – Both U.S. Men’s and Women’s Goalball Teams stood proudly on the medal podium this weekend at the 2015 Parapan American Games to accept medals for their outstanding performance in the week-long tournament.

The U.S. Women’s team advanced to the gold medal match yesterday after beating host, Canada in the last 12 seconds of the game. The team then lost to Brazil. 7-6, and won silver for Team USA.

Unfortunately, while their offense excelled, defensively, the team struggled.

“I don’t think our defensive mojo was alright today,” said Miller. “It wasn’t typical Team USA defense today, unfortunately.”

The U.S. Men’s team also struggled to defend Brazil’s powerfully executed throws. The men’s Brazilian team allowed an average of only two goals per game to opponents. The U.S. Men’s team was able to score 4 goals on Brazil in the final game.

“Their defense is spectacular,” said Joseph Hamilton (Sacramento, Calif.). “It’s no accident that they only gave up two goals on average per game against their opponents. But we were able to have a couple of good bounces and get a couple of good corner shots in, about half a foot to a foot from the sideline. And that’s a tough shot too in goalball – to throw and also to defend.”

The stands in the arena were filled with spectators this morning for the gold medal game between U.S. Men and Brazil. Hamilton, John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.) and Matthew Simpson (Smyrna, Ga.) started for the U.S. The three were able to defend Brazilian offense for the first 8 minutes before Brazil’s was able to break through.

At the half, the U.S. brought in a new combination – Donte’ Mickens (Delray Beach, Fla.), Daryl Walker (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Andrew Jenks (Wilmington, Del.). Mickens scored on a high ball penalty while Walker scored a full strength goal with 1:49 left in the game.

Ultimately, Brazil’s offense broke through U.S. defense for a total of 10 goals, resulting in a final score of 10-4. The men shook hands and congratulated each other for the solid competition before accepting their silver medals.

Since both teams had already qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games next summer, they did not have the added pressure of securing a spot. The teams will meet again one year from now on Brazil’s soil.

“We look forward to playing them again in the future,” said Asya Miller (Portland, Ore.) of the U.S. Women’s team. “We’ve got to make sure our minds are good defensively.”

“It’s all about your preparation,” said Hamilton. “One of the things we wanted, coming here, was the chance to play them twice. We see how accurate and how hard they can throw, how well they work together. How deceptive they are with where they block the ball and where they throw the ball so now that we have a taste of what their capabilities are, we have a chance to go back to our lab and see what kind of scientific methods we can cook up to be ready for them [next year].”


Aug 14, 2015

2015 Parapan Ams –Day Seven: U.S. Men Win in Overtime with “Panic Play”

TORONTO (August 14, 2015) – It was a game of defense between U.S. Men and Canada this afternoon in the second semifinal match that would determine which team would advance to the gold medal game against Brazil.

The first goal was scored 9 minutes into the first half, by Canada’s Brendan Gaulin. At the half, Canada led the U.S. Men’s team 1-0. After a high ball penalty against the U.S. early in the second half, the score was 2-0, Canada. Joseph Hamilton scored 2 goals to tie the game and bring the teams into overtime.

With less than 30 seconds left in overtime, the score was tied 2-2. When Matthew Simpson (Smyrna, Ga.) stepped forward to throw, he slipped, sending the ball backwards towards the U.S. goal line. John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.) grabbed the ball and pushed it toward Canada’s defenders in an effort to avoid a 10 second penalty.

“It was a panic play,” said Kusku. “The ball was rolling quietly and it got past their first defender.”

The men’s last minute win in the semifinal match advanced them to the gold medal game against Brazil tomorrow morning. This will be the second time the U.S. Men will play Brazil. In preliminary play, Brazil won, 9-2.

“It is going to take incredible defense and incredible patience on offense,” Kusku said. “They are the best team in the world and we can’t expect to score. We just gotta keep pushing it to them and keep blocking the goalball.”

The U.S. Men will take on Brazil tomorrow morning, August 15, at 11:30 a.m. EST at the Hershey Sports Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

The Parapan American Games serve as a qualification opportunity for goalball teams to secure a spot in Rio 2016’s Paralympic program. Though both U.S. and Brazil’s Men’s and Women’s teams have already qualified, the winner of the Men’s bronze medal match tomorrow morning will determine which team will punch their ticket to Rio tonight. Canada and Argentina will play for bronze at 10:00 a.m. on August 15.


Aug 14, 2015

2015 Parapan Ams –Day Seven: U.S. Women’s Goalball Team Advances to Gold Medal Game

TORONTO (August 14, 2015) – The U.S. Women’s Goalball needed to do one thing this morning to advance to the gold medal game against Brazil – break through Canada’s wall of defense. The game was back and forth but U.S. Women led at the half, 4-3. Their normal strategy of ‘defense first’ was tested early in the game when 2 goals were scored on them by Canada’s Ashlie Andrews.

After the half, U.S. Women took a comfortable lead with two goals. The Canadian women answered with 2 goals of their own to tie the game to 5-5, with 7 minutes left to play. Dennis brought her team into the lead again before Canada answered with a sixth goal to tie the game in the last 2 minutes.

Dennis scored to win the game for the U.S. Women with 12 seconds left in the second half. Her goal brought the final score to 7-6 and advanced the team to the gold medal game. 

“We’ve had ups and downs throughout this tournament, but it was all about keeping it solid for the last few shots,” said Dennis. “It was a back and forth game but, it’s really more exciting when you win a close game.”

The U.S. Women will take on Brazil at 7:30 p.m. EST tonight for the gold medal in Toronto.

“We faced Brazil in the round robin and they are a very tough team,” said Lisa Czechowski (Tucson, Ariz.) “We learned from them that we need to work on our defense”

“Defense is always first and then offense will come,” added Dennis about their strategy for tonight’s game. “We have things to work on between now and then. We need to tighten it up and execute properly for the next game.”

The Parapan American Games serve as a qualification opportunity for goalball teams to secure a spot in Rio 2016’s Paralympic program. Though both U.S. and Brazil’s Women’s teams have already qualified for Rio 2016, the winner of the bronze medal match tonight at 6:00 p.m. EST between Canada and Guatemala will determine which team will punch their ticket to Rio tonight.

Follow the action in Toronto on USA Women’s Goalball Facebook and Twitter.


Photo: USA Women's Goalball Team posing with Toronto 2015 mascot, PACHI. 

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