August 13, 2015
USA Wheelchair Rugby Wins In Double Overtime Against Canada
Photo Lauren Worthington – US Paralympics
The USA Wheelchair Rugby Eagles, currently ranked 3rd in the World, completed Pool play at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, undefeated after a double overtime win against previously undefeated Canada, ranked 2nd in the World.
These two wheelchair rugby powers are expected to contest for the gold medal Saturday. Their meeting last night in pool play proved to be an epic battle between wheelchair rugby heavyweights.
At halftime Canada enjoyed a slim 27-24 lead. The match proved to be a seesaw one where each team defended well, but were able to penetrate the other team’s defense to score. As a tribute to both teams, the match ended in regulation tied at 51.
This was followed by 3 minutes of extra time. After another tie at 55, Canada had the opportunity to score, but retreated in an attempt to manage the clock for a last score. With 16 seconds left in overtime, Canada called time out. As Canada was about to cross the goal for the win, a USA defender tipped the ball and saved the night for the USA, as a second overtime was needed.
During the second overtime, and the score tied at 59, Chuck Aoki chose similar tactics as the Canadians in the first overtime. Instead of a certain score, he opted to ice the game clock for a final score. He also pressured the Canadian defense that freed Eric Newby to score with about 3 seconds left.
After completion of this thriller, the USA Wheelchair Eagles finished pool play 5-0. Tonight they move to the semi-final match against Colombia at 8pm ET. This follows another Semi-final, Canada-Brazil at 5:45PM and a 5/6th place match between Argentina and Chile at 3:30pm. For streams of the matches, go to http://www.paralympics.org/live-sport
I thought that a sense of the athletes competing in wheelchair rugby at the Parapan Am Games is best described by Nigel Melville, CEO of USA Rugby, who tweeted, “this is what sport is all about!” He also described the USA team as “so inspiring – funny – committed and passionate about their journey.” I agree that their passion and commitment is easily observed. I certainly hope that they achieve Gold on Saturday.
USA Results Parapan Am Games
August 8 USA 70-25 Argentina
August 9 USA 62-27 Brazil
August 10 USA 54-11 Chile
August 11 USA 71-25 Colombia
August 12 USA 60-59 Canada 2OT
August 13 USA-Colombia SF
August 14 Gold and Bronze medal matches. USA will face either Canada or Brazil
For those new to wheelchair rugby, Jillian Clarke, in a Nov 13, 2014 US Paralympics article, “Ready For Rio, Wheelchair Rugby, 16 Facts,” explains important facts about wheelchair rugby. http://www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Features/2014/November/13/16-facts-wheelchair-rugby