The U.S. came up short in its quest for gold last night losing to Puerto Rico 28-27. Puerto Rico and the U.S. traded goals to start the game and the score was tied midway through the first half at 7-7. Puerto Rico then secured a 2 goal lead and would never relinquish the lead the remainder of the game. At the half they led 16-14 and they further stretched the lead to 26-20 with 10 minutes left in the game. The U.S. then staged a comeback reminiscent of their first match, outscoring Puerto Rico 8-1, coming up just short in the end.
Team USA was led in scoring by veterans Kathy Darling with 7 and Sarah Gascon with 6. Nicole Anderson added 4 while Ashley Butler and Jence Rhoads had 3 each. Rounding out the scoring was Julia Taylor with 2 and Ashley VanRy and Zoe Lombard with 1 a piece.
Overall, it was a pretty successful tournament for the U.S. with 4 solid wins and 1 loss to hosts Puerto Rico in the Final. This is particularly true, when one considers that without a full complement of athletes training at Auburn, roughly half the team hasn’t been able to scrimmage, let alone play regular competitive matches for the past 2 years. While the competition in NORCA isn’t very strong this still is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the determination of the athletes who made significant financial and personal sacrifices just to attend the tournament.
The U.S., along with Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic (3rd place winners over Greenland) have also qualified for the Pan American Championships which will take place this June in Argentina. Brazil, Argentina and Cuba will be strong favorites to finish in the top 3 and secure qualification for the World Championship, but the USA will be among several teams that will be looking to earn the fourth semifinal spot.
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