The USA Women recently traveled to France for some training and friendly competition. Here’s a summary of their match results based on information obtained from French Club, the Belgian Federation, USA Team Handball website and various social media accounts:
16 December USA vs Paris Saint-Germain 26-18 (Halftime 12-10)
17 December USA vs Belgium 29-31 (11-12)
19 December USA vs Belgium 21-31 (13-14)
20 December USA vs HBCSA 19-31 (10-13)
21 December USA vs Lomme Lille Metropole 24-29 (11-14)
Background on the Competition
Here’s some very top level analysis on the competition Team USA faced during the trip. “Very top level” in that other than a few video clips I did not see any of the matches. The relative quality of the French club team can be assessed by the division they play in. Unlike their male counterparts (one of the world’s top clubs), the Paris S-G women play in somewhat obscurity in France’s N2F, effectively the 4th Division in France’s confusing club hierarchy nomenclature. They entered the winter break with a 3-1-4 record and are in 7th place in their pool. HBCSA plays in France’s 2nd Division and they had compiled a 4-1-3 record so far this season and are in 5th place. Lomme Lille Metropole plays in France’s N1F (effectively the 3rd level) and had a 4-2-2 record and are in 4th place in their pool.
As far as to the level of the Belgian Women’s team there’s not very much in terms of recent results to assess how good they are. According to Belgian native Jan Vanderstraeten, who plays for the Portland Sasquatch the Belgium ladies have only recently restarted their program after 13 years of not playing in international competition. Overall, handball in Belgium is a significantly lower level than most countries in Europe, but they are now taking steps to develop their program.
Team USA Makes Do with Thin Roster
The U.S. was missing several key players and was particularly lacking in backcourt experience. Further, with 3 goalies on the 13 player roster leaving only 10 court players available such a thin roster had to be a concern going into the trip.
Team USA Roster
Taking into account the thin roster, a 1-4 record with 2 lopsided losses against modest competition is not a surprise to me. Playing 5 matches in 6 days is really demanding for a team with a full roster of experienced players and the U.S. was clearly short handed. Truth be told, it could have been worse and the U.S. is commended for easily taking care of the 4th division team, playing Belgium close in the first game and then playing the 2nd Division side close for a half. Again, having not seen the matches I can only guess that the U.S. ran out of gas in the 2nd halves of the 2nd match vs Belgium and against HBCSA.
Finally, if one compares this trip’s results to the trip taken last January to France there are signs of progress. For sure, last year’s trip had a more robust roster, but yet actually compiled more disappointing results against similar competition. If the U.S. roster had included Andersen, Butler and Van Ryn helping out in the backcourt this team would surely have fared better.
Handzone.net (France) Report on match vs HBCSA: Link
Photos: USA vs Lomme Lille Metropole: Link
USA Team Handball Preview of Trip: Link