By Paul D. Bowker | Sept. 02, 2018, 8:19 p.m. (ET)
Sarah Gascon shoots during a handball match against the Dominican Republic at the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games on Oct. 17, 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

Advantage, Team USA. Twice.

The U.S. men’s and women’s team handball teams took charge of their Pan American Games Qualifier on Sunday, both defeating Canada in a pair of matches at Auburn University.

The men defeated Canada 36-24 and the women also won by a score of 22-20 at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum in Auburn, Alabama.

The two-game series concludes for both the men’s and women’s teams on Wednesday in Montreal. If the U.S. also wins on Wednesday, it would lock down a spot at the 2019 Pan American Games, which is significant both because neither U.S. squad qualified for the 2015 Pan American Games and because the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, would mark the first step toward the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

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Both U.S. teams can still advance with a loss. The Pan Am Games spot is decided on aggregate goals. The women can still lose by one goal and advance to the Pan Am Games since they are ahead by two goals. The men could actually lose by 11 goals and still qualify.

The U.S. is trying to qualify for the Pan Am Games for the first time since 2011.

Nicole Andersen scored eight goals for the women in Sunday’s win, and Kathy Darling and Jence Rhoads each scored four times.

On the men’s side, Aboubakar Fofana led the way with nine goals. Ty Reed scored eight goals and Gary Hines had seven.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.