USA WNT and Senegal Play a Match for the Ages

June 04, 2018, 8:58 p.m. (ET)

The USA Women’s National Team played its second game of the round robin Busan International Friendly Handball Tournament against the National Team from Senegal.

The competition between the two emerging nations was like watching a game of chess between two experienced masters.  When an attack by the offense of one team was set, the opposing side would match it with their defense.  The entire game was played in this way, with the two teams matching goal for goal, for a few minutes the USA would lead, then Senegal, and back and forth it went.

Senegal Women’s National Team is made up of good number of experienced players, many of whom play in professional leagues in France.  The play of the African Champion is very strong, utilizing their one-on-one moves to create gaps in the defense.  The Senegal players are tall and powerful bringing a completely different style from Japanese Mie Violet Iris who the USA saw just the day before.  However, USA Women’s National Team was ready for the challenge.  Team USA employed their team strategy and system of play to match the tactics of the group from Africa.  When Americans play handball it is with their own unique style and ‘never give up’ attitude.

The two teams were very evenly matched, which was a bit surprising since the group from Senegal were much taller lineup then those in the stars and stripes.  Contributions for Team USA came from newcomers like 16 year old Sif Christensen scoring early in the first half on a breakaway, and veteran Julia Taylor who delivered on a set piece from left wing.  Kathy Darling fired in a couple into the high corners and Shani Levinkind was rock solid at the penalty strip for the USA.  The defense stayed together forcing Senegal to shoot from the 9 meter and beyond, making it difficult to get the ball to the very tall and powerful pivot.  As the first 30 minutes wound down the USA WNT found themselves in a bit of a hole with the score USA 12 and Senegal 15.

However, the three goal deficit did not last long after the halftime break, just five minutes into the second half the USA had evened up the score at 17 apiece.  Once Team USA tied the score they never let Senegal get more than a one goal lead for the duration of the game.  Goalkeeper Freja Dobreff responded to the challenge, in the second half, coming up with several spectacular saves, including stopping a 7 meter penalty shot.  At five minutes to go in the game, the score was tied 22 – 22. Incredible play by both teams ensued.  Jence Rhoads was clutch with a one-on-one move through an opening at the 6 meter line and the help of her pivot Shani Levinkind.   There was just 3 minutes to go in the game and we were all tied up with 23 -23.

Senegal had the ball on the attack, the USA masterfully deployed the defense to close down any openings and Freja Dobreff made another great stop in the goal.  The ladies in the stars and stripes got the ball with just under two minutes to go in the game and put together a series of attacks that yielded a goal to put them ahead, USA 24 – 23 Senegal.  Just under a minute thirty to play, the Team from Senegal on the attack, and the USA commits a foul at the 6 meter line, a 2 minute penalty and a 7 meter is awarded to Senegal.  The penalty was converted, the scored is tied 24-24 with under a minute to play.  The USA created a great attack and a wide open shot at the 6 meter, however, the goal is waved off due to a line violation.  Senegal calls a time out to set the play.  When play resumed there is just over 30 seconds to play in the game.  The attack comes with a sweep play from the right back and the goal is converted with just 4 seconds left in the game.  The USA made an effort as time run out, but the game ends, Senegal with the edge.  USA 24 – 25 Senegal.  It was a heart breaking defeat, yet an excellent show of improvement by the team from America and exciting match for all of the fans to watch.

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 Busan Infrastructure Corporation, the Busan Handball Federation and the Republic of Korea Handball Federation.

The USA Women’s National Team’s participation would not be possible without the sponsorship of the JC Chemical Company, who has been an amazing supporter for the USA Women’s Program the past two years.  Thank you, JC Chemical Company for helping our team grow and develop, we are one more step closer to realizing our goals!

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