September 15, 2016
USA Defeats Sweden in Wheelchair Rugby at Paralympics
Photo: Team USA/USA Wheelchair Rugby
The USA opened the Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby competition yesterday in Rio De Janerio, Brazil. Their pool consists of International Wheelchair Rugby Federation’s 7th ranked France, 6th ranked Sweden and 3rd ranked Japan. After winning the Canada Cup, the USA entered the Paralympics ranked as the number one team in the world.
The USA began pool play on September 14th with a 51-42 win against France and followed it up today with a 54-44 win over Sweden. Tomorrow will feature a match against Japan at 4pm local time (3pm ET) with seeding at risk for the Saturday semi-finals.
At the end of this article is an explanation about wheelchair rugby basics. This is important to understand players combinations and substitutions. This will be apparent after viewing line information from Jen Remick’s recap on USA Wheelchair Rugby and then looking at the Team USA squad below.
During the first period the USA took a 14-10 lead. Their defense continues to be stellar and resulted in six turnovers by Sweden.
During the second period, the USA switched to a line of Chuck Melton, Adam Scaturro, Josh Wheeler and Eric Newby and they maintained the lead from period one. They then changed back to Chuck Aoki, Kory Puderbaugh, Chad Cohn and Lee Fredette in order to ramp up the offense and this resulted in increasing their lead to 29-19 at halftime.
These teams were very familiar with one another after playing in tournaments and training together over the Summer.
The third period was evenly fought, and just like the last game, Sweden had a very slight one point scoring advantage for the period. The USA still had a comfortable lead 42-31.
USA Head Coach James Gumbert has tried to use his entire team the first two matches. This is important as they take on Japan in the final Pool match and then play the Semi-finals and Medal round.
The final period saw a line combination of Jason Reiger, Seth McBride, Eric Newby and Josh Brewer on the court. They increased the lead to twelve points early during the period and the game ended with the USA winning 54-44 over Sweden.
The top scorers were Josh Brewer with 15 and Chuck Aoki with 14.
James Gumbert had a few comments after the match saying “Throughout all four periods, the Americans seemed to dictate the tempo of the game. We like to be able to play all brands of play. If it’s a game that is slower in tempo we need to be comfortable playing that way, if it’s a game that’s up tempo, we want to know we have the horses to be able to run with them.”
Josh Wheeler was interviewed by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation after the match and said that he was pleased with the final result, which saw his side go 2-0 and one step closer to the semi-final stage. “Winning is always great. It’s pretty great to see the younger guys out there and how well they are playing. It’s awesome. Things went our way, we flowed well on our contained defense which is what we wanted. We wanted to make them try push through us and it worked.”
Sweden’s Tomas Hjert also had some comments about the difficulty posed in trying to match the world’s best. “We’ve got to play our game and we didn’t do that today so we had no chance. I don’t know why it happened, especially since we started so bad last game. We had to go a lot harder this first half, but we couldn’t do it. The crowd was great and it’s a big difference playing here rather than normal games, they were amazing support.”
The USA will play their final pool play match against Japan on Friday, September 16. They will then be in the Semi finals on Saturday the 17th and the medal matches on Sunday the 18th, the last of competition.
Both the USA and Japan are 2-0 in Pool play. Today Japan claimed a 57-52 win over France and they won yesterday 50-42 over Sweden. Sweden and France will play tomorrow with the winner taking third in the pool.
In the other Pool, Canada went 2-0, but it wasn’t easy. They created two turnover late in the match to tie Great Britain 45 all at the end of regulation and squeezed out a 50-49 win in overtime.
Great Britain has now had two narrow losses, the first a 53-51 loss to second seeded Australia. When they leave the Paralympics, they will replay both those games and how that thwarted their medal hopes.
Tonight Australia plays their second match against Brazil. This article will be updated to include that score.
The Paralympics is shaping up to find the top four seeds playing in the semi-finals on Saturday and will decide who will play for the Gold and Bronze on Sunday.
Team USA Game Schedule
- Sep 14 USA 51-42 France
- Sep 15- USA 54-44 Sweden
- Sep 16- USAvJapan- 4:00pm local, 3pm ET
- Sep 17- 1st Semi-final- 12:45pm local (11:45am ET), 2nd Semi-final- 4pm local (3pm ET)
- Sep 18- Bronze medal- 9am local (8am ET) and Gold medal- 12:30pm local (11:30am ET)
Team USA has had a great deal of success at Paralympic competition. It has 25-2 record earning Gold Medals in Sydney in 200 and in Bejing in 2008. They also earned Bronze Medals in Athens in 2004 and in London in 2012. Currently the USA is ranked number one in the world by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation rankings after they won the Canada Cup.
Also check NBC Sports for their broadcast schedule.
Team USA: 2 Chuck Melton (2.0), 3 Adam Scaturro (1.5), 5 Chuck Aoki (3.0), 6 Jeff Butler (0.5), 7 Jason Regier (0.5), 9 Eric Newby 2.0), 10 Josh Wheeler 2.5), 11 Seth McBride (2.0), 12 Chad Cohn (1.0), 15 Lee Fredette (1.0), 20 Josh Brewer (3.5), 22 Kory Puderbaugh (3.0), Coach James Gumbert
Sweden: Glenn Adaszak (0.5), Claes Bertilsson (0.5), Andreas Collin (2.5), Thomas Eriksson (2.5), Tomas Hjert (2.5), Stefan Janeson (1.0), Roger Lindberg (2.0) Rickard Loefgren (0.5), Mikael Norlin (2.5), Loa Rissmar (3.0), Tobias Sandberg (3.5), Lars Varnerub (1.5)
Wheelchair Rugby Basics by the U.S. Paralympics have made it easier to understand viewing wheelchair rugby at the Paralympics in Rio.
“The objectives of wheelchair rugby is for a player to carry a ball across the opponent’s goal line in order to score a point. A volleyball is used and must be bounced or passed between teammates at least once every 10 seconds during play. The sport is played in four eight-minute stop-time quarters indoors on a basketball court. All players are classified based on their abilities from 0.5 to 3.5 points. Four players from each team are allowed on the court at a time and the classification value between them can not exceed eight points.”
“Paralympic wheelchair rugby competition is open to male and female athletes with physical disabilities, such as amputation/limb loss, spinal cord injury/wheel-chair users and cerebral palsy/brain injury/stroke.”
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