Team USA defeat Costa Rica in Pan Am Play

June 04, 2013, 10:44 a.m. (ET)
The USA Team Handball Women’s National Team (WNT) won their first game of the Pan Am Championships tonight with a convincing victory over a physically overmatched Costa Rican Women’s National Team 30-13.

The Americans started quickly and then got sloppy on offense, resulting in several easy scoring opportunities for the Costa Ricans.  Unfortunately for them, starting Goalkeeper Sophie Fasold brought her “A” game and was brilliant.  She stopped several breakaways and personally allowed the Americans to build a modest lead which they never came close to surrendering.  The half time score was a comfortable 14-7, leading the coaching staff to challenge the Americans to win the second half independent of the first.  They did, 16-6, as Fasold again played well, as did Freja Dobreff who relieved her mid-half.

While the American offense was inconsistent, many players had no problems lighting up the scoreboard.  Stephanie Hesser was the recipient of assist after assist, scoring a game-high 9 goals to lead the way.  Four players contributed four goals each, including Megan Ballard, Lisa Dunn, Sarah Gascon, and Julia Taylor.  Ashley Van Ryn scored her first two goals of her career and Marilyn Elder scored once.

Head Coach Christian Latulippe was happy with the win, blemishes and all, stating, “This was a good first step in the development of our new National Team Program.  Costa Rica is not Brazil or Argentina, but it is always good to win in international competition.  The players will become more confident with the successes they had tonight.  I view this as a small step down the road to becoming a legitimate power in our hemisphere.”

Team USA has a day off on Tuesday, returning to action against a very tenacious and impressive team from Mexico.  Mexico lost a heartbreaker to the host Dominicans on a shot with 3 seconds to play, 27-26, in Monday’s late afternoon game. The Americans will have their hands full trying to handle Mexico’s very quick and shifty backs.  The sluggish American offense will need to find some scoring punch against a solid defense and terrific Mexican Goalkeeper.