USA Women’s National Team Starts Full Throttle Against Japanese at the Busan International Friendly Handball Tournament

June 01, 2018, 5 a.m. (ET)

The USA Women’s National Team is in Busan, Korea to participate in the Annual Women’s International Friendly Handball Tournament which runs from 30 May 2018 – 4 June 2018.  The tournament includes a mix of National Teams and highly-rated club teams: the National Team of Hong Kong, China; representing the Continent of Africa, Senegal; the Australian National Team; Japan’s division one club team, Mie Violet Iris; and host country Korea’s Bisco Women’s Professional Team.  The event is hosted by the seaside city of Busan, Korea, the Bisco Women’s Professional Team, the Busan Handball Federation and the Republic of Korea Handball Federation.  Korea has been taking a leadership role over the past 3 years to help emerging nations in women’s handball by host this competitive and beneficial competition, and is furthering the development of the great sport worldwide.

The USA Women’s National Team is partaking in the Busan Tournament for the second year in a row at the invitation of the Busan Infrastructure Corporation Women’s Professional Team, the City of Busan, and Korean Handball Federation.  The WNT’s participation would not be possible without the gracious sponsorship of the JC Chemical Company, who has been a key benefactor for the USA Women’s Program the past two years.  JC Chemical’s support has created a great opportunity for the USA Women’s National Team to begin their important preparation for the September 2018 Pan American Games Qualifications against Canada.  Qualifying for the Pan American Games will be a huge accomplishment and milestone for the WNT Program.

The USA Women’s National Team played the opening game of the 3rd Annual Busan International Friendly Handball Tournament against the highly-rated division one club team, Mie Violet Iris from Japan.  The game began with the introduction of the players and delegations, and included the traditional player exchange and good luck expressions.  The game was at high velocity from the start and never slowed down.  The lighten speed of the players from Japan created a good challenge for Team USA and raised the level of intensity.  Nicole Andersen started off the scoring for the USA with a breakthrough shot right on target from the left back.  The two teams traded goals for much of the first half.  Julia Taylor contributed with a nice one-on-one move to increase the score with around 20 minutes to go in the segment.  However, the Japanese team edged ahead with a series of fast breaks as the first half closed, the USA trailing 9 goals to Japan’s 13, respectively at halftime.

The USA opened the second half with good defense and a couple consecutive goals to make the score (11-13).  The highly ranked club team from Japan found openings at the wing positions and were able to stay in front by the midway point in the second half.  It was at this juncture the USA came alive led by Jence Rhoads.  Anticipating the play by the Japanese team, she jumped the pass and headed down the court for an easy wide open fast break.  The USA edged closer with a nice play at the circle by Kathy Darling, bringing her team with one goal of Mie Violet Iris of Japan.  The passion stayed high by both teams, both sides displayed intense defense and good offensive strategy to find the openings between the 9 and 6 meter lines.

When Japan would score, the USA came right back with another goal to keep the competition close.  Both teams took advantage when opportunities presented themselves.  It was a good first contest for Team USA.  Unfortunately, the WNT could not overcome the quickness and fast breaks of the Japanese team.  Just a few passing errors near the final minutes made the lead too great for the USA Team to surpass the speedy Japanese.

Overall, center back, Jence Rhoads led Team USA in scoring with 8 goals and was followed by Nicole Andersen, left back with 7 goals.  A relative new comer, Monaye Merritt scored two goals from the left wing, as did Zoe Lombard from the right.  The entire team contributed on the defensive end, with several newcomers playing more expansive roles as the USA WNT is without 3 of its veteran players.

Next up for the Team USA is the African Champions, the Women’s National Team from Senegal.  Look for further update on the USA Team Handball website and Follow US on our Facebook Page.