Team USA Overcomes Early Deficit to Begin Nor.Ca with a Comeback Tie

March 31, 2015, 8:20 a.m. (ET)
By: Dave Gascon
USA Team Handball Director of High Performance

SALINAS, Puerto Rico – 
USA Team Handball’s Women’s National Team (WNT) opened the North American-Caribbean (Nor.Ca) Qualifier Tournament in Puerto Rico yesterday with a stirring come-from-behind tie against favored Greenland, 26–26. The Auburn Residency-based squad fought like Tigers, their host Auburn University’s nickname, coming back from a five-goal deficit in the first half to be even at 15 at halftime.

Kathy Darling caught fire early for the American squad as Team USA fought an uphill battle against a disciplined and very effective Greenland National Team. Although squandering many scoring opportunities, the USA Women never lost their composure. Down by as many as five goals (13-8) at one point, the USA Women kept scratching back. Newcomers Zoe Lombard, Jence Rhoads, and Desiree Nguyen, scored important goals, as did veterans Ashley Van Ryn and Sarah Gascon, as the team demonstrated its resolve.

Team USA held a brief lead in the second half before falling behind again. But, led by Van Ryn’s hot hand, the WNT once again caught up to Greenland. A strong defensive effort, featuring veteran Tomuke Ebuwei and Jennifer Farrar, backed by goalkeeper Sophie Fasold making several outstanding stops, kept Team USA close. Another recent addition to the USA Senior Team, Liz Hartnett, along with Rhoads and Gascon, added goals in a dramatic second half comeback from down three in the waning minutes of the contest.

Tied at 26, Greenland had a free shot as time expired. The American defensive wall proved impenetrable as the free shot was blocked by the middle of the wall. Having not beaten Greenland in many years, the tie should serve as a confidence builder for the USA Women. The highly productive duo of Van Ryn and Darling combined for 14 goals. Balanced scoring by the rest of the team is important as next up for Team USA is heavily-favored Cuba.

The USA-Cuba match is scheduled for 6:00 PM (ET) on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

Final Score: USA – 26, GRL – 26

Goals: USA – Van Ryn (8), Darling (6), Gascon (4), Rhoads (3), Hartnett (3), Lombard (1), Nguyen (1)
Goals: GRL – Hansen (9), Rasmussen (4), Grønvold (4), Mikkelsen (3), Jensen (3), Lyberth (1), Berthelsen (1), Steenholdt (1)