USA Women Tangle with Denmark Club

Aug. 21, 2017, 4 p.m. (ET)

After competitive games against two truly outstanding Division One handball clubs, The USA Women’s National Team (WNT) today challenged a solid club, EH Aalborg, Denmark, a second division competitor, for a chance to prove they are just about at that high level themselves. 

The Danish team consists of players who grew up playing the sport and being coached well and with so many players aspiring to greatness in their beloved sport.  The Aalborg club is rich in tradition and frequently turns out national team players. 

The clubs matched up fairly closely in size as they took the court with much anticipation.  Team USA has been easy work in recent years for clubs down to the Division 3 & 4 level.  And in January of this year they were unimpressive against better clubs.  This year however, the USA WNT has actually had the opportunity to play in important competitions.  They played well in their NorCa qualifier for the Pan Am Championships.  They finish a very improved and respectable 5th in the Pan Am Championships, and they have played well against two very strong, and well- funded, Division One clubs in this 2017 Busan International Friendly Tournament.

The American Team broke out to a lead behind goals by Zoe Lombard and Kathy Darling.  As Aalborg caught them, the teams then exchanged goals with Darling on a 7-meter, Nicole Andersen, and another Darling goal from the 7-meter line.  Aalborg got their first lead and Team USA fought back with goals by Jence Rhoads, and two by Julia Taylor.  Aalborg was up by two when the USA missed a 7-meter chance.  Darling later closed out the scoring for the WNT as the half ended at 10-9 Aalborg. 

The second half opened with some sloppy play by the Americans leading to breakouts by Aalborg.  However, Rhoads scored followed by Sarah Gascon and Andersen to close the gap again.  As Aalborg seized the initiative following blocks and turnovers, they once again opened a lead.  The WNT fought back again with Shani Levinkind scoring followed by a pair of goals by Darling.  After Darling scored on a 7-meter, Gascon scored again and the WNT resisted being blown out of the game. 

Aalborg kept the lead and opened it up, but Darling scored two 7-meter shots to make the score a respectable 23-19 final.  The game actually left the Americans with a bitter taste in their mouths for what might have been.  They knew they we fairly evenly matched with Aalborg and were undone by their own mistakes and poor execution on offense which led to Aalborg fast breaks and easy scoring opportunities.

Head Coach Christian Latulippe was clear in the post-game comments to the team that they are now the equal of clubs like Aalborg, but that they cannot squander their opportunities, nor can they afford to get sloppy with the ball.  The defense was once again strong, with Sophie Fasold stellar during her time on the court, with Bryana Newbern also exceptional during her stink in relief.  Next up for the Americans is the Australian National Team.