Team USA Fall to Dominican RepublicIn the game Team USA had to win to have any hope of qualifying for the World Championships in Serbia later this year, the Dominican Republic was overpowering. Opening with optimism and intensity, the USA stayed in the contest early, but again an ineffective offense compromised their effort. Unforced errors, a lack of penetration, missed and blocked shots, all led to the Dominicans having fastbreaks and high percentage shots.
The Americans were able to return Captain Sarah Gascon to the line-up, but the return was offset by the loss of veteran Latrice Lewis, one of the top players on the team. Several other players sustained nagging injuries over the past week, and one sustained a minor concussion during a morning training session yesterday. The impact of such losses and injuries are difficult to assess, but clearly there was significant impact on the offense! While the Americans continued to play good defense, the offense created the opportunity for numerous counter-attacks which the Dominicans converted to scores. The halftime score was 16-6 Dominican Republic.
The halftime pep talk by the coaches focused on fundamentals and advice on offensive schemes and the proper execution of plays. Unfortunately, things did not improve to any great degree and the Americans continued to flounder on offense. Their stellar defense was the saving grace for the team, but such an effort didn’t result in any significant amount of counterattack opportunities. The Dominicans were able to close out the American’s without much difficulty, 27-11.Although ineffective on offense, there were some highlights which resulted in nice scoring opportunities and a few goals. Stephanie Hesser scored twice, as did Kathy Darling. Joining them on the stat sheet were Tabitha Hardison, “T” Ebuwei, Marilyn Elder, Julia Taylor, Lisa Dunn, Megan Ballard, and Gascon.
Team USA plays Costa Rica in the late game Monday night at 7:00 PM (EST). The game will be live streamed on the USATH web link or can be found on the Pan American Team Handball Federation web page.