The USA Men’s Junior and Youth National Teams opened competition today in West Dundee, Illinois, as part of the International Handball Federation’s IHF Trophy Tournament program. The tournament is being played in the Lifezone 360’s multi-sport facility, home of USA’s Youth Head Coach Craig Rot’s impressive youth development program. The tournament is financially supported by the IHF, but the tremendous work required put on a major international tournament is being handled by Craig Rot and his assistant, Greg Inahara, of the USA Men’s Senior National Team.
The USA Men’s Youth National Team opened this afternoon against favored Martinique. The USA youngsters were quick off the opening whistle and jumped into a lead. Max Binderis opened the scoring and was followed by Taidhgin Trost and Amar Amitovic. In fact, Amitovic would score seven times in the first half, supported by five goals Per Logan Erikkson. The American offense was impressive against a large and quite physical Martinique team of athletes older by an average of two years. Ricky Kanak added a goal, along with Matt Reddy, as well as Trost, and the Americans fought to a 17 all tied at the half.
Unfortunately for the Americans, the second half was dominated by the physical play of the impressive athletes from Martinique. Once Martinique opened the half with a rally, the Americans could never really stop them or stay with them. The lead would open up to as much as eight goals, in spite of the relentless efforts of the over-matched Americans.
Trost scored four times in the second half, with Binderis throwing on three of his own. Amitovic, Erikkson, and Ryan Paul would each contribute a goal, but it was nowhere near enough to stay with Martinique. Team USA was outscored 17 to 10 in the second half for a final score of 34 to 27 for the team from Martinique.
Head Coach Craig Rot was impressed by the total effort demonstrated by his young team, never wilting in spite of the superior size and strength of their opponent. The team will return to action on Thursday against the team from Canada.
The USA Men’s Junior National Team played the very next game against the squad from Dominica in a game that proved to be no contest for the talented Americans. The USA set a blistering pace and ran the Commonwealth of Dominica into a huge hole before the crowd had resettled into their seats. Paul Skorupa, Sebastian Wheeler, and Nikolas Zarikos, scored seven, six, and five goals in a few short minutes. Giona Dobrani scored three times, Joseph Saia twice, and Austin Kourt once, as Team USA tallied 25 goals in the first 30 minutes.
The second half was just as impressive as Aaron Hamm scored four times, Zarikos added four more, and Zac Reitz scored three times. Dobrani, Kourt, William Kennedy, and Skorupa, each added a pair of second-half goals. Justin Shores and Wheeler each added a goal to close out the half with the Americans finishing with a 46-15 win.
While the offense was prolific, the defense was stellar. The interior defense was solid the whole game. Goal Keepers Rene Ingram and Michael Zahour were outstanding in the victory. Head Coach Julio Sainz played the entire roster and was delighted with his team’s performance. Next up for the USA Men’s Junior National Team will be Haiti on Wednesday evening.