USA Men Wear Down Canada for Convincing 36-24 Victory

With several changes to the U.S. roster the big question heading into last night’s contest was how much of a difference those changes would make.  From the opening minute it was pretty clear that the new backcourt trio of Fofana, Hueter and Hines would add much needed scoring punch to the U.S. offense with crisp passing and one on one athleticism.  But, Canada met the challenge with a little athleticism of their own and matched U.S. scoring in the early going, even taking 1 goal leads in the early going (5-4 and 6-5).  Midway, through the first half, though, after being tied 9-9, the U.S. was able to clamp down a bit on defense and get some separation for an 18-14 lead at the break.

The first 20 minutes of the second half would see the U.S. build a 6 goal lead only to have Canada claw its way back to a four goal deficit at 28-24.  At which point, a combination of Canadian fatigue and missed scoring opportunities turned the game into a rout.  It was as if the U.S. had found another gear and Canada had run out of gas.  The U.S. dominated play on both sides of the floor to finish the match with 8 unanswered goals for the final 36-24 result.

Abou Fofana, with 9 goals was the Match MVP, but quickly noted in a post game interview that Center Back, Ian Hueter was a big part of his success feeding him the ball for multiple scoring opportunities.  Gary Hines also benefitted from an experienced center back and another back court threat and scored 7 goals at right back, a position he does not regularly play.  (Indeed, as one who has seen Hines getting marked and roughed up over 60 minutes, it was as if he was 24 years old again.)  The U.S. also got solid play from wings Michael Lee and Ty Reed.  Reed, who outside of training camps, is not even practicing regularly was particularly effective with 8 goals.  A trio of circle runners (Baup, Skorupa, and Donlin) played hard, but were little overly aggressive on defense resulting in multiple 2 minute penalties.  Finally, Rene Ingram, played all 60 minutes in goal and found his rhythm in the 2nd half with several nice saves.

Canada, except for the last 10 minutes of the match, had a lot to commend for itself.  Defensively, they adapted quickly to the capable USA back courts challenging them and making sure there that there were no free shots at 9 meters.  I was particularly impressed with the play of backcourt Marc-Andre Vachon who led Canada with 7 goals and also set up other scores as well with aggressive attacks on offense.

With a 12 goal aggregate lead the U.S. has a big cushion for the second leg in Montreal.  While not insurmountable, Canada will have its work cut out for them.  Regardless, they will be eager for revenge and with a sold out crowd of 600 cheering them on leg 2 should be closer.  Wednesday night’s game is at 2100 Eastern Time (0300 CET, Thursday).  The match will be live streamed on the Quebec Handball Federation Facebook page:  Link


USA:  Abou Fofana (9), Ty Reed (8), Gary Hines (7), Ian Hueter (5), Michael Lee (3), Drew Donlin (2), Antoine Baup (1), Greg Inahara (1)

Canada: Marc-Andre Vachon (7), Justin Larouche (4), Alexandre Touzel (3), Christian Toth (2), Tim Sartisson (2), Etienne Mercier (2), Marc Gordulic (1), Gregory Chauvee (1), Mattieue Rousselle (1), Cedric Dupere (1)

Video:  USA – CAN Men (Leg 1): Link