Uruguay Women Defeat United States in First "Last Chance" Match

March 08, 2015, 11 a.m. (ET)

Sarah Gascon's MVP performance wasn't enough to lift Team USA over Uruguay at home
By: Maurice Godwin
USA Team Handball Communications Specialist

AUBURN, Ala. – Team USA was outscored 15-9 in the second half, and lost to Uruguay 30-25 in the first Women's match of the Last Chance Series. 

The energy of the home crowd in the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum ignited the U.S. Women to a strong first half offensively. Ball movement and off-ball movement was crisp and Team USA succeeding in limiting turnovers and converting on offensive possessions.

Sarah Gascon (USA) was especially impressive in the first half, scoring from the pivot, attacking from the back court, and automatic from seven meters.

Uruguay, though, stayed in the game with sound offensive strategies as well, as Team USA had difficulty defending the penetration from Uruguay's backcourt. The United States employed a half-court pressure defense which initially frustrated Uruguay's offense, but later in the game led to easy goals as Uruguay broke through the defense and took frequent shots on goal.

Goalkeeper Sophie Fasold was another first-half bright spot for Team USA, as she made impressive saves to spark the U.S. counter-attack. 

Team USA went into halftime leading 16-15.

After the break, the U.S. offense was more forced than in the first half, and the Women could not score as efficiently. Team Uruguay, however, maintained their poise and continued to find gaps in the U.S. defense leading to shots on goal. 

Leading the way for Team USA in the second half was Kathy Darling, who fired 5 shots into the back of the net. Unfortunately, Gascon (2) and Ashley Van Ryn (2) were the only other players to register goals in the second half for the U.S. Women.

Uruguay's balanced offensive attack in the second half was led by Alejandra Scarrone (3 second half goals), Martina Barriero (3), and Camila Barriero (4). Their defense was equally as effective, leading Team USA to pass laterally instead of attacking the defense directly.

As the crowd died down, the U.S. players were unable to keep the match close and a 24-23 deficit grew to a 30-25 deficit as time expired. This is significant, since the Team USA Women must not only win in Uruguay on March 14, but win decisively by six goals or more in order to finish the Last Chance series with a better goal differential than the Uruguay Women's Team.

Many U.S. Olympians were in attendance and were recognized at center court during halftime. Handball Olympians were given the honor of selecting the Most Valuable Players from both teams. Sarah Gascon was selected for Team USA, and Camila Barriero was selected for Team Uruguay.

The U.S. Women will travel to Montevideo next week to compete in the final Repêchage match for their last chance to qualify for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

Final Score: URU – 30, USA – 25

Goals – URU: C. Barriero (9), A. Scarrone (8), M. Barriero (4), Fynn (3), Grosso (2), Ferrari (2), D. Scarrone (1), Belbe (1)
Goals – USA: Gascon (7), Darling (7), Van Ryn (4), Rhoads (2), Fithian (2), Taylor (1), Andersen (1), Farrar (1)

Red Card – USA: Andersen (3 two-min. suspensions)

Referees: Enrique Perez (PUR), Jose Guzman (PUR)

Visit USATeamHandball.org regularly for updates on Team USA and the Pan American Games "Last Chance" Series