The USA Women blew open a close match in the second half for a resounding 26 – 22 victory over the Dominican Republic. The win puts a foot in the door for the semifinals and the opportunity to play for a medal.
With Argentina as the solid favorite to win Group B, both teams knew going into the tournament that this head to head match up would like be for a semifinal berth. The first half did not disappoint and was a back and forth affair with both teams taking the lead at different points. The U.S. led at the break 11-10.
In the second half the U.S. women gradually took control thanks to a combination of better defense against the Dominican Republic backcourts and efficient secondary fast break execution. The lead extended to seven goals at one point, but the Dominican Republic was able to add a few late goals for the 26 -22 final score.
Head Coach Christian Latulippe: “Great match with great defensive intensity. We were able to capitalize on fast breaks on their mistakes and pull away with a huge win for Team USA.”
Center Back Jence Rhoads: “We brought the energy and passion to the important win we needed today. Our defense was more aggressive and our offense had more continuity, which ultimately ended up with a W.”
Scoring: Julia Taylor led the U.S. scoring attack with 8 goals on 11 shots. Jence Rhoads added 7 goals on 12 shots. Other goals scorers were Nicole Andersen (4), Zoe Lombard (2), Liz Hartnett (2), Sarah Gascon (1), Bryana Newbern (1) and Julia Sayer (1). Johanna Pimental and Florquidia Puello led Dominican Republic scoring four goals each.
USA vs Dominican Republic Stats: LinkGroup Standings: Link
The win puts the U.S. in a good position to qualify for the semifinals. The final day of pool play will be Saturday. The U.S. will be heavily favored to beat an inexperienced Peru side that lost to the Dominican Republic by 30 goals in its opening match. Argentina will then be strong favorites to beat the Dominican Republic. Assuming that happens Argentina and the U.S. will advance to the semifinals. If the Dominican Republic, however, pulls off an upset the resulting 3 way tie would likely see Argentina and the Dominican Republic advance.
Team USA is off tomorrow for the Opening Ceremonies which will be broadcast on ESPNU at 8:00 PM (US ET). Both the Men’s and Women’s teams will be part of the U.S. contingent and at 28 athletes strong it shouldn’t be too hard to pick them out in the crowd.
Additional note: Starting with the Women’s semifinals on Monday all of the remaining handball matches including Men’s pool play will be broadcast on ESPN 3. ESPN 3 is part of ESPN’s Watch ESPN platform that is available to all ESPN Cable/Satellite subscribers.
Watch ESPN: Link