Since 1976, teams from the United States have earned 13 Paralympic medals in goalball and they now officially have the chance to make it 14 after the women’s victory in the semifinals at the International Blind Sports Association qualifier in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the top two men’s and women’s teams qualify for the Games.
The 8-4 win over Israel earned the U.S. women a quota spot at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, where they’ll have a chance to add to the collection of two gold, three silver and three bronze medals they’ve accumulated over the years. The U.S. women have historically been the most successful in the sport since its inception in 1976 at the first Olympiad for the Disabled, predecessor of the Paralympic Games, in Toronto, Ontario.
The U.S. women defeated Great Britain 9-1 in the quarterfinal to advance to the semifinal where their experience showed. The U.S. roster included Rio bronze medalists Lisa Czechowski, Amanda Dennis, Marybai Huking, Eliana Mason and Asya Miller. Both Miller and Czechowski have competed at five Paralympic Games.
A penalty to Miller allowed Israel to score its first goal of the second half with seven and a half minutes remaining to cut the U.S. lead to 6-3, then scored again a minute later to make it 6-4 and put some pressure on the Americans. Mason then scored a big goal to go back up by three and take the momentum away from Israel. Another goal through a gap made it 8-4 and forced Israel to take a time out and make a substitution, but the U.S. held strong on defense and thwarted the comeback attempt. Dennis finished with five goals, Mason two and Miller one in the victory.
The U.S. will play China for the championship on Tuesday.
The U.S. men lost their quarterfinal to reigning Paralympic champion Lithuania, 6-5, on Sunday, eliminating them from contention for a Paralympic quota. The final chance for the men to qualify for Tokyo will be at this summer’s Lima 2019 Parapan American Games.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.