USA Team Handball's longest continuing rivalry resumed earlier this month with the West Point Cadets traveling to Colorado Springs, Colo. to take on the Air Force Falcons. The match was a spirited affair with Air Force eventually rolling to an easy 37-21 victory in front of a loud and vocal crowd of about 250 spectators. The Air Force victory ended an Army winning streak in the rivalry dating back to 2008. Additionally, it's also believed to be the largest ever margin of victory for Air Force in the series which has historically been dominated by Army.
The match started out with the two sides trading goals and the lead during the first fifteen minutes. Midway through the first half, however, a combination of good goalkeeping by Air Force's Jarrod Washington and ensuing fast break opportunities allowed Air Force to pull away for 16-10 lead at the break. The run of goals continued in the second half as the fast paced game and the high altitude (approximately 7,100 ft.) of the Cadet Gym was too much for an undermanned West Point bench. Sean Cahill led a balanced Air Force scoring attack with eight goals. USA Team Handball Junior National Team player Drew Donlin added six and Conor Lee and Nick Slater scored five a piece. West Point was led in scoring by Core Eaten with seven.
After the match, Air Force Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh was gracious towards his Army rivals noting that flight seat limitations only allowed West Point to travel 10 roster players. To make matters worse, some of those players had been drafted for an Army-Air Force extra mural basketball game right before the handball match. Coupled with the stress of altitude, Cavanaugh emphasized that the West Point Cadets had shown great character and spirit.
Army will likely get multiple chances for revenge later this season with Air Force traveling to the Annual West Point Invitational and potential match ups at either the Collegiate or Club National Championships.
Air Force - West Point 37-21 (16-10)
Air Force Academy: Sean Cahill (8), Drew Donlin (6), Conor Lee (5), Nick Slater (5), Steve Stein (3), Jake Wong (3), Ryan Tucker (2), Jared Roberts (2), Steve Backus (2), Mitch Dobson (1).
West Point: Coree Aten (7), Daniel Zeck (4), Palmer (2), Xavier Davis (2), Mondesir (2), Corinth Cross (2), Negley (1), Walsh (1).
Compliments to John Ryan of Team Handball News for sharing this piece.