VANCOUVER, British Columbia - One thing Team USA has shown at these Paralympic Winter Games is their ability to persevere when their backs are against the wall.
Augusto Perez and the American team used that skill set to steal a point in the final end against Germany's Jens Jaeger team to earn a 6-5 win and improve to 2-1 in the round robin standings. Canada remains in first place with a perfect 3-0 record.
"It was a hard-fought battle. I told the guys when we were four down that we could do this," Perez said.
Perez (East Syracuse, N.Y.) and teammates Patrick McDonald (Orangevale, Calif.), James Pierce (North Syracuse, N.Y.) and Jacqui Kapinowski (Point Pleasant, N.J.) got off to another slow start and had their work cut out for them after falling behind 0-4 after just two ends of play this afternoon at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.
Starting with the last-rock advantage, the Americans allowed Germany to steal points in the first two ends. Perez was heavy with a draw attempt for a single in the first and with lots of rocks in the front of the house in the second end, he attempted a raise but didn't make firm enough contact with the stone and the raised rock went out of the back of the house, giving Germany three more points.
The U.S. finally got some rocks in scoring position in the third end to get right back in the game. Germany only managed to remove one of three U.S. stones with Jaeger's final toss, opening the door for Perez to draw into the rings for three points but his stone stopped short as the Americans settle for two.
In the fourth, Kapinowski got the center guard up but didn't cross the hogline with her next one, giving Germany an opening that they weren't able to capitalize on. Perez would make a double takeout with his final rock of the end and roll his shooter behind a center guard that Jaeger was unable to remove as the hungry Americans closed the gap at 4-3.
After holding Germany to a single in the fifth, the U.S. got a couple of stones in the top of the house but Jaeger made a perfect draw down to the U.S. rock in the back eight-foot in the sixth, forcing Perez to duplicate the feat for a single as well.
The U.S. played a very solid seventh end, putting stones in scoring position throughout the end to keep Germany chasing. Jaeger missed the double takeout, allowing Perez to draw another stone in. Feeling the pressure, Jaeger made the takeout of the stone in the four-foot but rolled out, allowing the U.S. to tie the game.
In a fingernail-biting eighth end, both teams tried in vain to get a stone in the house behind the guards with Perez locking in the winning piece of granite with the 13th rock thrown of the end. The U.S. would go on to win as Jaeger missed the takeout with the final stone of the game.
"That one made up for the second end. The main thing was to force him to make his last shot," Perez said. "It's probably not the best way to win but it showed a lot of character. We toughed it out and were patient."
Team USA will return to the ice at 12:30 PST tomorrow to battle Italy (1-1) and again at 6 p.m. against Great Britain (0-2).
Eight ends of competition are played at the Paralympic and wheelchair world curling events. No sweeping is allowed and teams must be composed of both genders.
The official site of the U.S. Paralympic Team, www.usparalympics.org, will also offer daily video and news highlights of the competition from Vancouver. Also check out www.paralympicsport.tv for on- demand feeds.
USA line score:
*USA 002 101 11 6
Germany 130 010 00 5
*last stone in first end
Game scores: Italy 13, Switzerland 4; Korea 7, Japan 5; USA 6, Germany 5; Canada 6, Norway 5
Great Britain 0-2
Live scoring from the event will be http://www.vancouver2010.com/paralympic-games/wheelchair-curling/schedule-and-results/ or visit www.usacurl.org.