SOCHI, Russia— The U.S. team of Penny Greely, Jimmy Joseph, Meghan Lino, Patrick McDonald, and David Palmer lost twice on Day 3 of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games at the Ice Cube Curling Center, first falling to Canada in the monring session, 7-2, then to host Russia, 6-5, in the evening.
Team USA was unable to take advantage of scoring opportunities against Canada in the morning, losing 7-2. In a game fashioned on precision shooting, Canada narrowly outshot the Patrick McDonald and the American team, 56-51 percent, but their vice skip Ina Forrest played at 79 percent to keep the Canadians' record perfect at 4-0 as the round robin neared the halfway point.
"The first four ends were probably some of the best curling we've done all week," said McDonald, who is skipping in his first Paralympic Games after serving as alternate/vice skip in 2010. "After the fourth-end break it was business as usual. We were playing good but had a couple of missed shots and they capitalized. Later in the game we tried to play tough and get multiples (points). We got little rubs here and there and they capitalized on those, too. We pretty much just ran out of ends."
In the evening session, it was a valiant effort right down to the final stone, but the American team could not find its way into the win column.
"It was tough fought, but we were there. We weren't out of it. Even in the last end, they had a few key misses," McDonald said after the loss.
The hot-shooting Andrey Smirnov rink improved to 4-1 for a share of first place after surviving the final end and defeating McDonald and teammates.
"We put the hammer down and they got a little shook up out there. Just a little more ice on Pat's last one there had we tucked it under and we could have made it a little bit harder for them," Joseph said about the finish of the game. "I got goosebumps from that. I'm so ready for tomorrow. They made great shots. You gotta give them credit, they shot really well."
While the scoreboard does not reflect it, the U.S. battled in every end but still struggled with rock placement and reading the weights needed to fully execute shots.
"We struggled setting up the ends today and getting rocks in play. That's where they got us in multiples," McDonald said. "We just couldn't get the first part of it going. Then we did the best we could. We had some ends where we played really, really well but then there were some ends where we had the right shots set up, but we had some key mistakes."
The loss drops the Americans to 1-4 in the nine-game round robin standings. "We need to win the rest of the games basically," said Joseph, who is competing in his third Paralympic Games. "We've had a little struggling issues with the team so we're rotating players. We're just trying to climb the ladder. It's a big step, but however it turns out, I'm still proud to represent the USA. I'm not saying we're giving up, I feel strongly about it. We'll come back strong tomorrow. Last year China had a 5-4 record and won bronze so it can be done."
With four games left in the round robin, the U.S. team cannot afford another loss to keep the playoff hopes alive.
"I think there are going to be a whole lot of teams in that tiebreaker position, and I plan on being in it," McDonald said. "I'm still not worried. Until someone comes up to me and says 'We didn't make it,' we'll concentrate and keep moving forward."
The Americans return to the ice on Tuesday afternoon with a matchup with Finland (0-4).
Live scores and standings can be found at http://sochi2014.curlingevents.com/paralympics. Follow the action at Twitter as well and use hashtag #2014Paralympics.
USA line score:
Russia 210 201 00 - 6
*USA 001 010 12 - 5
*last stone in first end