By Matthew Gephart
SOCHI, Russia – The US has found itself between a rock and a hard place, or should I say, a stone and a hard place, after defeating Finland by one point Tuesday during the Round Robin Session eight.
Coming into the days’ session, the US Team had found themselves sitting near the bottom of the standings, and needing to win out to keep in the contention for a medal. After losing the hammer for one of the few times here in the Paralympics at Sochi, the US team needed to play it smart and aggressively if they wanted a chance to get to the finals.
Finland started out the session with the hammer but was unable to capitalize as the US Team took a 1-0 lead without the hammer. Going into the second end, Finland looked to be gathering themselves and playing stronger than they were with the hammer, scoring one point and tying the session at one.
Then the US began to turn on the heat, scoring consecutive ends, including a three-point fourth end after the Finland skip left his final shot shy of the house allowing the US to score, putting the board at 5-1 in favor of the Americans.
With a considerable lead, things were looking good for the US Team going into the fifth end although nerves got the best of them, allowing Finland to score four points and tie the session on multiple miscues.
All knotted up going into the sixth end, the US Team found themselves with the hammer yet again and within a tight spot all tied at five. This end went down to the wire where USA Skip Patrick McDonald needed a takeout on the final throw to score a point, which he made successfully taking the lead and putting the score at 6-5.
The nail-biting went all the way to the final end after the US was able to steal one more point from the Fin’s to make the score 7-5 going into the eighth and final end, where the Finland team was only able to score one stone and leave the session in favor of the US Team 7-6. This allowed the US to stay in medal contention, going up against Team China in the morning session, and Team Sweden in the evening session on Wednesday.