USA Men's Youth National Team Rides a Roller Coaster of Emotions

May 10, 2018, 10:30 p.m. (ET)

Men’s Youth National Team Head Coach Craig Rot was optimistic his youngsters would acquit themselves well in their scheduled double-header on Thursday as the IHF Trophy Tournament continued in West Dundee, Illinois.  He had no idea what the day had in store for him, and neither did his players.

Team USA opened at noon against a talented Canadian team.  The Canadians were obviously experienced team handball players as their skills were instantly observable.  Canadians demonstrated a sound and efficient offense along with a strong and determined defense.

The USA opened with Max Binderis notching the first two goals, followed by a goal by Matt Reedy.  However, the Canadians answered immediately and continued to score.  Amar Amitovic scored the next three goals, but the Canadians weren’t in the least deterred. Taidhgin Trost scored, followed by Amitovic, and two more by Binderis, but the Canadians stretched out their lead.  When Reedy scored goal number 11 for the USA, they were done scoring for the half.  The Canadians racked up 20 for a halftime score of 20-11 for the lead.

The second half opened with optimism, but it was quickly extinguished by an onslaught of Canadian fast breaks.  Binderis scored his fifth of the game, Ricky Kanak scored three, and Tyler Shores scored three.  Sam Loven also hit the scoreboard with a goal.  Unfortunately, the Canadians made sure there was no chance for the Americans to get back into the game.  The Canadians finished strong for a 39-19 victory.

You would think such a thorough pounding would leave the American team emotionally spent.  If you did, you would be completely wrong.  This resilient group of prideful youngsters were all pumped up and ready to go when they took the court against the favored team from Martinique.

In fact, the Americans fought from the start, even though they fell behind early.  Down 6-3, they roared into the lead and played from in front the entire game.  Max Binderis again opened the USA scoring, followed by Amar Amitovic and Per Logan Eriksson.  When the Americans caught fire, Amitovic scored two, Matt Reedy scored one, Eriksson scored two, Taidhgin scored followed by Ricky Kanak.

Once the Americans jumped into the lead, Binderis added three more goals, Eriksson added two, Reedy added two, and Amitovic Trost and Kanak added one each as the Americans led at halftime 19-15.

As the second half opened, the team from Martinique chipped away at the lead, but as they closed the Americans would open the lead again. Binderis scored four times, Amitovic three times, as did Ryan Paul.  Reedy and Trost each scored twice, with Kanak once in the second half. 

The American actually had the game won with 8 minutes to play in the game and a huge lead.  Martinique applied heavy defensive pressure and the Americans started turning over the ball and missing every shot.  Martinique kept chipping away at the lead.  However, they did create problems for themselves as time and again they turned the ball over by stepping on the 6-meter line on breakaways.  Even with all their turnovers, Martinique kept getting closer as the American squandered the lead.  It was like watching a countdown to a launch of a rocket, the lead went from 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 and finally, boom, a tie game at 33!

After a couple of tie-ups, Amitovic crossed the top of the 9-meter line and fired in a shot with 5 seconds to go and the Americans regained the lead 34-33.  The Martinique player scrambled to inbound the ball and threw it away to the American with a second to play and the game was finally secured.  The relief was obvious as the players celebrated and Coach Rot could breathe again!

Team USA gets a much-deserved day off on Friday and will close out the tournament against Canada on Saturday.