2017 IHF Continental Cup

April 30, 2017, 1 p.m. (ET)

"Success happens because of adversities, not in spite of them..."

 

 

  A ten-goal victory by Martinique on Wednesday may have created doubt in the heads of everyone but the 11 players on this U-21 trip.  We gave much-needed ress to our main court players, while simulataneously giving our less-experienced players some valuable court time (which, in turn helped us defeat Guatemala).  Samuel Hodderson began the game's scoring with a nine-meter set shot into the upper right corner.  From that, point, however, the first half didn't go as hoped for the American side.  Missed shots, turnovers, and saves by the Martinique keeper held the American side scoreless for its next nine possessions.  Meanwhile, Martinique stretched its lead to 5-1 before Hodderson found the net again on a penalty shot.  MTQ answered on two of its next three possessions, taking a 7-2 lead.  

  Martinique's defense generally gummed the American attack by marking RB Sean Zimber man-to-man from the beginning of the game, forcing the US to try to find answers for fluidity.  Goals by Yousef El Far, Antoine Baup, and Cedrick Kollman helped to narrow the lead to three goals, but Martinique responded with defense and offense enough to create a 12-7 halftime spread.  

  Hodderson scored the first four goals for the Americans in the second half as the US defense found ways to tighten up on the Martinique attack.  Halfway through the second stanza, Martinique called timeout when its lead had shrunk to one after a goal by All-Tournament right wing El Far, 16-15.  The momentum of the game had shifted and the US defense had found its strength: forcing Martinique to play through its right side.  The US forced a turnover out of the midpoint timeout by MTQ, and consequently forced eight turnovers in Martinique's final 14 possessions.  With all of its defensive success, however, the US couldn't quite take control of the game until some timely shooting and action from Hodderson, Kollman, and pivot Baup tied the score at 18.  Martinique scored immediately after, going up 19-18, but El Far scored a great individual goal to tie it back up.  

  The US finally took the lead on a score by Kollman, but was penalized in the last minute-plus on a two-minute penalty by Baup.  MTQ tied the game on a shot from left back that seemed to take some of the momentum back.  With under a minute remaining, the US hit crossbar from left AND right wing on the same possession before a seven-meter throw was awarded to the American side.  Hodderson calmly faked and feinted before placing the shot in the upper left corner, giving the US a 21-20 lead with 11 seconds remaining.  Martinique pushed to counter the goal and drew a 2m/red card on Yousef El Far as the clock expired, setting up a penalty shot for a tie and potential overtime, creating shades of the extra time played in the final of the Drummondville, Canada trip.  Unsung hero and All-Tournament goalie Rene Ingram stood in net and withstood a series of feints before sticking his left leg out to save a low-placed shot from the Martinique shooter, preserving a one-goal victory and an advancement to the next leg of the IHF Cup.

 

Hodderson, Kollman, El Far, Ingram, and Zimber all received All-tournament honors, but the US did the impossible: winning a tournament with no training camp and only 9 court players.  With a few small adjustments, controlling turnovers (which limited Martinique's ability to capitalize on its athleticism and fast-break ability), and playing through each other, Team USA rode the playmaking of Hodderson and massive saves by Ingram in net to another title in the IHF Cup, claiming the title of champions of the Americas, 21-20.

 

 

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