TOKYO, Japan —- It was a close match with Team USA winning 6-4 over Brazil, but Amanda Dennis led her team to their first victory at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games up against the same country they beat in Rio 2016 for bronze.
The stadium may not have had roaring crowds— not that crowds would be allowed to roar at a goalball match— but Team USA’s fan presence was still strong in a small group who sat cheering as loudly as they could in between plays, ringing bells and banging inflatable bats together to show their support.
Brazil had actually scored the first point of the game within the first minute or so— but that quickly changed with two successive points scored by #3 Lisa Czechowski and #5 Amanda Dennis. It wasn’t long before #7 Eliana Mason scored a point as well, bringing them to a 3-1 lead.
Brazil has an impressive backwards throw between the legs that adds power and speed, but it was no match for the graceful swiftness of Team USA’s blocks. It didn’t help Brazil that they consistently triggered penalties throughout the match, throwing high-balls and long-balls several times.
Team USA coordinated throughout the entire match to assure that there were no penalties- something that #4 Asya Miller wanted to take note of.
“Games are often won or lost on penalties and the ability to convert them, and I’m really proud of the girls not having any because that’s usually not how it goes during practice,” said Miller. “We want to be able to take advantage of all the penalties given to us.”
The second half of the game began with the U.S. in the lead 4-2 thanks to Mason, which was quickly bumped up to 5-2 courtesy of Dennis.
Although Brazil managed to score two more points in the second half, it wasn’t enough to catch up with the U.S. before the game timed out at 24 minutes, giving the win to Team USA.
“Brazil is a really great opponent and we had to play up to be able to beat them,” said Dennis, who emphasized that her team felt prepared to come up against them.
Mason, like the rest of her teammates, echoed the sentiment that Brazil is a great team and that they thoroughly enjoy their matches with them.
“We feel good, we feel excited and we’re ready to be here,” said Mason.
All in all, the whole team expressed joy at finally being at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
\Team USA Women’s Goalball squad’s next match is against Egypt at Makuhari Messe Hall C on August 27, 2021 at 19:00 (local time).
This coverage is amazing!