New York City gears up to defend its title; NYAC defeats Condors 25-15

May 08, 2009, 2:47 p.m. (ET)

(ELGIN, IL) - According to coach Richard Kluz, it is too late for New York City Team Handball Club to look for weak spots in its game.

The No. 1 seeded defending champions have been practicing twice a week and recently held a week-long training camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Center in New York in preparation for the 2009 Club National Championships. The team has also obtained several sponsorships and from local organizations and international handball supporter Hummel to help ease any burdens. 

This weekend, the team is defending its national title against familiar rivals.

“From our past experiences, we are going to have Chicago Inter Red. They’re playing at home so they should be more motivated than anybody else. Also those old dogs, NYAC; the average age is 45 but they’re tough,” Bini Mustafa said on the team’s greatest competition at Nationals. “And the Condors.”

NYC THC1 won its first match of the weekend Friday morning against newcomer Polish Folklore, 44-7. The recently formed Folklore was seeded No. 20, but Mustafa said the young team has potential.

“They’re hungry. They just need to stick together and practice,” he said. “This is truly a team sport more than any other.”

Mustafa’s noted competition, New York Athletic Club and the Condors, already faced off Friday morning, with NYAC victorious, 25-15.

Although powerhouses Gary Hines, who plays professionally in Germany, and ’96 Olympian Darrick Heath are playing for the Condors, NYAC goalie Dan Capparelli and strong defensive play helped keep the team hailing from New York in the lead; in the first half, Capparelli stopped two penalty shots from Hines and Heath. Other strong performances from NYAC included Branison Bednarik, the match’s top scorer with six goals, one of them thrown from beyond half court. Mike Thornberry of NYAC scored five.

But the Condors looked good, according to Brian Finley, West Regional Director.

“Gary and Darrick;” he said. “it was like watching Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan together on the court.”

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