6 July 2019
USA prove too strong for GB in goalball quarter-final
GB’s IBSA Goalball Paralympic Qualifier campaign came to a battling end as Rio 2016 bronze medallists USA ran out 9-1 winners in their quarter-final clash.
Kali Holder scored a second-half consolation for GB but a 7-0 half-time deficit proved a mountain too high to climb, despite a much closer encounter after the break.
The American squad featured five Paralympic medallists, and Amanda Dennis – who starred in Brazil – stole the show with five goals before being substituted early in the second half.
Placing matches remain for GB, but with Paralympic spots only available to the top two sides at Fort Wayne, GB will turn their attention to October’s European Championships as they bid to secure a spot at Tokyo 2020.
The game began as a cagey affair, with GB looking to frustrate their USA counterparts, and a series of exchanges took place before Eliana Mason got the breakthrough with an effort that slipped between Sarah Leiter and Georgie Bullen in the second minute.
Asya Miller scored a brace to make it 3-0 halfway through the first period before Dennis got her first of the game with a confident effort that evaded the entire British defence.
Despite GB’s best efforts, the American backline couldn’t be broken down and Dennis scored twice more before Leiter produced a great penalty save to deny Miller in the 11th minute.
Dennis went on to grab her fourth and fifth goals either side of the interval – but the match was a much closer affair in the second half.
A Lisa Czechowski penalty narrowly evaded substitute Antonia Bunyan but Holder hit back immediately as she found a gap in the centre of the US goal to reduce GB’s deficit with seven minutes left on the clock.
Further bouncing efforts from Holder and Bullen put the Americans under pressure and Shavon Lockhardt had to be at full stretch to prevent a second GB goal with time running out.
The USA used their experience to effectively run down the clock and succumb GB to knockout defeat, after they had qualified for the last eight by finishing fourth in their pool.
But Aaron Ford’s squad left with their heads held high after producing a valiant performance against the tournament hosts, with the knowledge they still have a shot at finishing as high as fifth in the competition.
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