Women's Team Handball
The USA Men and Women both took important steps in reaching the 2012 Olympic Games in London albeit in entirely different fashions.
After a gut-wrenching overtime loss to Canada in the North American Pan American Games Qualification Series, the USA men bounced back at the Second Chance Tournament. They earned a draw with a much fancied Uruguay side and then dominated Guatemala to advance on goal differential and earn the final slot to the 2011 Pan American Games.
The USA women dropped the opening match in the North American Pan American Games Qualification Series by five goals, which left them an uphill battle in the away leg in Montreal. However, in one of the most stunning upsets in USA Team Handball history, the team shocked Canada by five goals in the “Miracle at Montreal” to make it to the Pan American Games.
The winner of the Pan American Games earns an automatic spot in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The second- and third-place finishers will have to enter an Olympic Qualifying Tournament that will be played in early 2012. The last time Team USA competed in the Pan American Games was 2003 when the USA men earned the bronze medal.
Both the USA men and women will have to take several steps forward to earn those precious Olympic berths but both sides have an intriguing blend of youth and experience that could make the world notice how far team handball has come in the United States.
- Can the USA women win the Pan American Games and earn the automatic berth to the Olympic games that comes with it? It would be the first time a USA Team Handball squad has been in the Olympics since 1994.
- Which one of the USA women’s top stars will take the jump to the next level? Karoline Borg? Sophie Fasold? Taylor Proctor? Stephanie Hesser?
- If they fail to win the Pan American Games, can they bounce back and qualify for the Olympics via the Qualifying Tournament in 2012?
- Karoline Borg: The left-handed back court player is perhaps the most capable and talented player on the Women’s National Team. She led Team USA in scoring in the Pan American Games qualification series where the U.S. shocked Canada, coming back from five goals down, to earn the coveted berth to Pan American Games. She plays for SK Njard in Norway.
- Sophie Fasold: The talented 17-year-old goalkeeper’s development will be key to the USA women’s chances of making the 2012 Olympic Games. She is perhaps the top prospect on the Women’s National Team.
- Sarah Gascon: A former standout NCAA Division I volleyball player, Gascon provides the heart and toughness for the USA women. She recently returned from Poland, where she starred in the Polish Handball League.
The winner of the Pan American Games earns an automatic berth to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The second- and third-place finishers at the Pan American Games will be entered in an Olympic qualifying tournament to be held in Europe in 2012.
- Sept. 5-30, 2011: Women’s National Team Training Camp – Lake Placid, N.Y.
- Oct. 14-25, 2011: Pan American Games – Guadalajara, Mexico