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By Christy Householter, Consultant, Region 10 Educational Service Center

Abstract: this article describes the USA Women’s National Goalball team’s come-from-behind victory in the Onnela Goalball Tournament in Onnela, Finland

Key Words: blind, visually impairment, goalball, Women’s National Goalball Team, Ken Armbruster, Onnella Goalball Tournament

The following is an excerpt from a recent goalball tournament in Finland, submitted by USA Women’s National Goalball Team Coach, Ken Armbruster. Armbruster is a seasoned goalball veteran, recently leading his team to a Gold medal in the Beijing, China 2008 Paralympics, and then clinching “Paralympic 2008 Coach of the Year”. Dallas, Texas goalball coach and aspiring national assistant coach, Christy Householter, had the chance to learn first-hand the thrill of victory as she accompanied the team on her first international trip.

Coming from behind in a stunning gold-medal match that was decided by a shootout, the USA Women’s National Goalball team emerged as champions of the 2010 Onnela Goalball Tournament held 23-24 January in Onnela, Finland.

Team USA opened their tournament play against the host Finnish team. USA built an early 5-2 lead behind two goals apiece from Asya Miller (Birmingham, AL) and Lisa Czechowski (Tucson, AZ). Although Finland challenged USA center Nicki Buck (Kalamazoo, MI) and produced a pair of comeback goals, Team USA held on for a 5-4 victory. USA’s next pool match was against the current European Champion, Great Britain. Both teams scored a goal early and remained in a 1-1 deadlock for most of the first half. With four seconds left in the half, Great Britain’s Emily Luke powered in one of her tournament leading scores resulting in a 2-1 Great Britain lead at the halftime buzzer. Midway in the second half, USA’s Robin Theryoung (Colorado Springs, CO) converted a penalty shot tying the score and Czechowski hit the game winner with 57 seconds left in the game: final score, team USA 3-2 over Great Britain. In a 4-2 loss to Sweden, Miller scored on the first throw of the game only to be countered by Sweden’s Malia Gustovasen’s first throw. Sweden went ahead midway through the half and Miller tied it at 2-2 shortly before halftime. USA couldn’t penetrate the rock-solid Sweden defense in the second half, while Sweden converted a penalty shot and Gustovasen added to the scoring tally, resulting leading to a 4-2 Sweden victory. The last pool game was against Greece. Jordan Walters (Boulder, CO) gave a strong defensive effort contributing to a 2-0 USA victory. Jackie Barnes (Wadsorth, IL) scored at the six minute mark of the first half and Theryoung added a second half goal.

The ladies avenged their only pool play loss to a strong Swedish team with a thrilling shootout victory. Trailing the Swedes midway through the second half of the game Miller scored her third goal of the game, tying the score at 3-3, and keeping Team USA’s chance alive for a gold medal in overtime play. As the game progressed to a shootout, Miller and teammates Czechowski and Theryoung (Colorado Springs, CO) scored goals while Walters made a key defensive stop against the number one Swedish scorer Malia Gustovasen, sealing the victory and the gold medal.

After two upcoming training camps, the next competition will be the Lady Malmo Cup (Malmo, Sweden) where USA are the defending champions.