IBSA Goalball Worlds – Paralympic spots decided
Date: July 5, 2014
The final day of competition at the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships was reserved for the medal matches.
We started the day with the women’s bronze medal match between Turkey and Japan. This was another typical Japanese match, low scoring and based around defense. Turkey was able to score mid way through the first half off a highball penalty. This was done by Turkey’s highest goal scorer Sevda Altunoluk.
The second half went along the same lines, during the first half of the second stanza there was a second Japanese highball that was once again converted by Altunoluk. The only difference with this portion of the match was that late in the second half Altunoluk made a third goal to take it up to 3-0. Japan made various substitutions throughout this period of play but it was unable to achieve the desired result. Turkey won and will join Russia as Paralympic debutants within the goalball competition on the female side in Rio 2016.
Speaking to the Turkish team post match they expressed a feeling of relief about this qualification:
“This is our first World Championships ever and there was a lot of pressure on us to come home with those tickets to Rio.”
Prior to the game they were very nervous:
“We are a very young team and Japan is very experienced”.
The coach credited the win to sticking to their game plan:
“I told them not to make any mistakes or penalties and Japan did this for us instead and we were able to take advantage of this”.
Next on the schedule was the men’s bronze medal match between USA and Lithuania. USA opened the scoring early in the match. This was done by Joseph Hamilton. Both teams had good defense. Further into the second half Lithuania player Mantas Panovas made it through for the Lithuanian equalizer. He then went on to put Lithuania in the lead. He nearly undid his good work with a highball penalty but was able to block it. USA did have their chances in the first half but good scramble work from the Lithuanians kept the ball out of their net.
Early in the second half Tyler Merren was able to equalize for Team USA. He continued this to make a second goal further into the second half and put the USA back into the lead again. USA had the chance to extend their lead off a Lithuanian highball but threw one themselves. Lithuania missed their chance as the ball was blocked and then received an illegal coaching penalty. This time USA didn’t waste the opportunity and extended their lead. This is how the score remained.
USA is back to the Paralympics after the disappointment of missing London 2012:
“USA is back!” was said by the whole team in the locker room following the match.
With this third place finish, USA has now qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympics. This was something that they really wanted:
That is the biggest thing, tickets to Rio”. Said a relieved USA coach, Mike Lege.
USA lost the final at the 2011 IPC Parapan American Games and by this missed out on qualification for the London Paralympics. Therefore to now be qualified is a huge relief for them:
“One match away, let’s not let that t happen again”. Was what was said amongst the team prior to the match. “Now we are glad that that camel is off our back.”
Now that the minor medal was decided it was time for the gold medal match. The women’s gold medal match was between two teams that are becoming somewhat rivals: USA and Russia. USA scored in the first minute. Asya Miller scored as she already had many times throughout this tournament. Well into the first half Amanda Dennis doubled the USA total to take them up to 2-0.
The second half remained a tight affair. Following a substitution Russia received a delay of game penalty and this increased the USA’s lead to 3-0. This was Dennis’s second goal for the match. This is how the match concluded. USA World Champions again for the first time since 2002.
Only one member of the current team was there in 2002 as explained by player Jen Armbruster:
“I was the only one there in 2002 but this is something new for all of us.” She continued, “Over recent years we have had all colours; silver, bronze, but no gold.”
The day ended up with the match that the crowd had been waiting for the men’s final. This match was highly anticipated but not because it is the mens final or the replay of the final from London 2012 but because Finland, host nation, was playing the final. Brazil was their opponents. Brazil lost to Finland very convincingly two years ago 8-1. Then it was the first time that Brazil had played such a final but this time they were experienced and knew what to expect.
Brazil open the scoring in this match. The first goal was made by Romario Marques. The half then continued with many great shots and saves but a long ball from Finland changed the situation. Leomon Silva scored off the penalty. Next ball and it was another long ball and Silva repeated his efforts and suddenly Finland was behind at 3-0.
Silva made it a hat trick during the second half taking the Brazilian goal total up to four. The crowd remained behind their national team but this didn’t seem to be enough. Silva and Maques continued to break through the Finnish defense and by the final buzzer the Brazilian goal count was up to 9. Finland did manage to get one back but this was little pleasure for a team who was on the receiving end of a very lopsided score line.
Speaking to the Brazilian coach, Alessandro Tosim, following the match, he stated that it was not their intention to get revenge for what happened in London:
“No, No, we were not thinking about the revenge. We only came here to play well we came for the result.”.
Brazil were confident throughout the whole tournament that they were capable of becoming the World Champions:
“Yes, since the first day.” Was the response from Tosim when asked about whether they felt they could win the tournament.
The element of surprise through new players and knowing the opponent well as the reason why Tosim feels that they achieved this result.
“We knew Finland studied our team and we have studied Finland as well. We had new players to mix things up”.
This tournament ended up bringing old and new rivals together and also showed that the Goalball world is expanding into new areas. From this we can only be excited for what the future will bring and more exciting battles between rivals.
At this moment, IBSA Goalball would like to thank all of the organizing committee, volunteers, officials and referees who put many hours of their free time into this tournament. It was a fine tournament organized at the highest quality. For this we would like to congratulate everyone involved including the athletes on a very successful tournament and one that was enjoyed by many.