Team USA Falls to Mexico

April 02, 2015, 5:55 p.m. (ET)
By: Dave Gascon
USA Team Handball Director of High Performance

SALINAS, Puerto Rico – 
The anticipation was great as the USA Team Handball’s Women’s National Team took the court against favored Mexico. However, after only a few minutes into the game, the optimism of the Auburn University-based National Team vanished after watching Mexico streak to a 5-0 lead.

Team USA Coach Christian Latulippe hurriedly called a time-out to stop the run, and within a few minutes the momentum shifted as Team USA scored four quick goals. Ashley Van Ryn, Sarah Gascon, Kathy Darling, and Julia Taylor each scored as the game shaped up to be what everyone expected.

The USA played very well at times with excellent wing play, and goals coming from excellent goalkeeper outlet passes and successful fast-breaks. Goals by Van Ryn, Gascon, Darling, and Liz Hartnett, brought the USA back into contention. However, the USA Women trailed 18-16 at halftime.

The second half started with the same disastrous results as the first. The Americans gave up another quick five goals and fell behind by seven early into the half. As a result, it was all uphill as Team USA fought back to close the lead on several occasions only to have Mexico pull away and eventually prevail, 31-26.

The Mexican Women’s National Team played a stellar game. They were disciplined and committed very few turnovers. In contrast, the U.S. Women had many more turnovers, several of which were unforced and very costly.

The Americans were led by high scores Julia Taylor with seven goals, Sarah Gascon with six, and Ashley Van Ryn with five.

Next up for the United States is host country Puerto Rico at 8:00 PM (EST) on Thursday, April 2.

Final Score: MEX – 31, USA - 26

Goals: USA – Taylor (7), Gascon (6), Van Ryn (5), Darling (3), Hartnett (3), Lombard (1), Rhoads (1)
Goals: MEX – I. Gallegos (6), Lugo (6), Aguirre (5), Hernández (4), Castañón (3), Ruvalcaba (3), B. Gallegos (2), Avalos (1), Yedra (1)

Red Card: USA 
– Darling (3 two-min. suspensions)
– At the end of Nor.Ca day three, Team USA remained in 5th place. At the conclusion of the Qualifier, Cuba and the top three teams will advance to the 2015 Women's Pan American Championship (May 22-29, 2015). Cuba advances to the Championship tournament regardless of their finish in the Qualifier since they will be the Championship tournament host.

– USA back Ashley Van Ryn remains in the Top 10 in Nor.Ca scoring (6th) with 16 goals over the first three matches. Sarah Gascon is not far behind (T-10th) with 15 goals.

– Team USA competes against familiar opponent, Puerto Rico, this evening. Team Puerto Rico and Team USA have seen much of each other over the past two years:
The Women’s Team traveled to Rio Grande last April to play friendly matches against the Puerto Rican Senior and Junior Women’s National Teams, among others. Team USA lost to Puerto Rico Senior team, 24-21, but won against the Junior team, 23-13.
Last October, Team Puerto Rico was the first international competitor to take on Team USA in the new Residency Program venue based in Auburn, Ala. The two teams competed in a three-game exhibition series in which the U.S. Women tied once and lost twice (24:25, 21:26, 22:22).
The U.S. Women most recently played another friendly three-game series against Puerto Rico in February, and won all three matches (29:23, 30:21, and 31:25).
- USA Team Handball would like to thank Women's National Team player, Elizabeth Hartnett for attempting to coordinate a broadcast of the match via using her phone and cellular connection. Unfortunately, there were technical difficulties and the broadcast was aborted. It does not appear that the Puerto Rico Handball Federation will be broadcasting the Nor.Ca matches since there is no wireless internet in the competition venue.