USA Women’s Goalball Claims Silver Medal at Tokyo Paralympics
TOKYO, Japan (September 3, 2021) – Defending gold medalist Turkey proved too much to handle for the short-handed U.S. women’s goalball team in Friday’s final of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall C. The tournament’s leading goal scorer, Turkey’s Sevda Altunoluk, scored six of her nine goals in the first eight minutes as Turkey built an insurmountable lead and never looked back in the 9-2 victory. The silver medal marks the 12th Paralympic medal in USA Goalball history and the seventh won by the women’s team.
The U.S. handed Turkey its only loss of the tournament five days ago but played the gold medal match without the services of leading scorer Amanda Dennis (Peachtree City, Ga.).
“Clearly, everybody saw that we did not have our full squad available,” said U.S. coach Jake Czechowski. “That was my decision. We had a pre-game injury and I’m always going to err on the side of caution for my athletes. We want to play and compete and beat everybody in the world, but never at the expense of health.”
The U.S. team had rallied from behind in each of its previous three matches, including Monday’s tilt against Turkey and Thursday’s semifinal win in extra throws over Brazil, but didn’t have any comeback magic left today without their full roster available. The Americans scored the last goal of the first half when Eliana Mason (Beaverton, Ore.) found the back of the net and closed out the scoring in the second half on a goal by Asya Miller (Portland, Ore.).
“The goal was to win gold but we’re still really proud of that silver medal,” said Mason. “I always think of the semis as a silver-medal match. We won that silver last night and that was such a great win…a game I’ll always remember. It’s important to be really proud of that. We didn’t stop fighting at all, we just kept pushing and pushing, and all you can ever ask is to do your best.”
Showcasing the sport of goalball at its highest level on the Paralympic stage was also at the forefront of the players’ minds, especially after a string of live-streamed thrilling victories on the road to the silver medal.
“We are so excited for all the exposure that goalball has received from the Games,” said six-time Paralympian Lisa Czechowski (Boonton, N.J.). “We’re just so excited to see how it will just continue to take off in the United States and more and more people are going to learn about our amazingly great sport.”
Japan defeated Brazil in the women’s bronze medal match, 6-1.
In the men’s bronze medal match held right before the women’s gold medal contest, the U.S. men’s team lost by a 10-7 count to reigning Paralympic champion Lithuania. The American squad rallied back on several occasions throughout the match but couldn’t overcome the experienced Lithuanian lineup.
After falling behind 2-0, goals from Daryl Walker (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Calahan Young (Irwin, Pa.) tied the game. Lithuania would proceed to score the game’s next four goals to open up a 6-2 advantage with 8:04 to go in the contest, but the U.S. clawed its way back and closed the gap to 7-6 on Walker’s second goal with 4:13 left on the clock. That would be as close as the American team would get as Lithuania closed it out with three more goals.
Walker, Young and Matt Simpson (Smyrna, Ga.) each tallied two goals with John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.) contributing the other. Young was the team’s leading scorer in the tournament with 20 goals.
The team also had to play most of the tournament without veteran Tyler Merren (Coral Springs, Fla.) due to injury.
“We lost our team captain, our team leader, our best player in the first half of the first game,” said Simpson. “We were a couple of breaks away from the medal stand and we’re taking that away. Nobody likes to lose but we fought and we got here and losing Tyler like we did, ending up in the top four is a real win for us.”
In the men’s gold medal match, Brazil defeated China by a score of 7-2.
TOKYO 2020 GOALBALL GAME RESULTS:
USA Women’s Goalball:
August 25th USA v Brazil 8:30 PM (JST) 7:30 AM (EDT) 4:30 AM (PDT) – Won 6-4
August 27th USA v Egypt 7:00 PM (JST) 6:00 AM (EDT) 3:00 AM (PDT) – Won 10-0
August 28th USA v Japan 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EDT) 9:15 PM (PDT) (Aug 27th) – Lost 3-2
August 30th USA v Turkey 7:30 PM (JST) 6:30 AM (EDT) 3:30 AM (PDT) – Won 4-3
September 1st quarterfinals vs Russian Paralympic Committee 7:30 PM (JST) 6:30 AM (EDT) 3:30 AM (PDT) – Won 5-3
September 2nd semifinals vs. Brazil 7:30 PM (JST) 6:30 AM (EDT) 3:30 AM (PDT) – Won 5-4 (extra throws)
September 3rd gold medal match vs. Turkey 5:45 PM (JST) 4:45 AM (EDT) 1:45 AM (PDT) – Lost 9-2
USA Men’s Goalball
August 26th USA v Brazil 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EDT) 9:15 PM (PDT) (Aug 25th) – Won 8-6
August 27th USA V Japan 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EDT) 9:15 PM (PdT) (Aug 26th) – Lost 11-1
August 29th USA v Algeria 5:30 PM (JST) 4:30 AM (EDT) 1:30 AM (PdT) – Won 13-5
August 30th USA v Lithuania 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EDT) 9:15 PM (PDT) (Aug 29th) – Lost 13-3
August 31st quarterfinals vs Ukraine 3:00 PM (JST) 2:00 AM (EDT) 11:00 PM (PDT) (Aug. 30) – Won 5-4 (OT)
September 2nd semifinals vs China 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EDT) 9:15 PM (PDT) (Sept. 1) – Lost 8-1
September 3rd bronze medal match vs Lithuania 3:00 PM (JST) 2:00AM (EDT) 11:00 PM (PDT) (Sept. 2) – Lost 10-7
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