TOKYO, Japan (WANE) – The USA Men’s Goalball Team has advanced to the semifinal round of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games after a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Ukraine in sudden-death overtime Thursday.
First-time Paralympian Calahan Young (Irwin, Pa.) fired the opening shot of the overtime period between two Ukrainian defenders to give the Americans the 5-4 triumph. The U.S. will now face China in Thursday’s semifinal, said Turnstone, one of 11 Paralympic training sites in the United States.
“We never stop believing in each other,” said John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.). “There was never a thought in anyone’s mind that we weren’t going to come back and win that goalball game.”
Matt Simpson (Smyrna, Ga.) opened the scoring with a goal in the first three minutes but Ukraine responded with the next three goals to open up a 3-1 halftime advantage, Turnstone said.
Ukraine extended the lead to 4-1 early in the second half before the American squad rallied to tie the game on three consecutive goals by Young, the last two coming just 30 seconds apart.
“These six players, they’re fantastic,” an emotional U.S. Head Coach Keith Young said of the team’s resiliency. “We’ve faced a lot of obstacles and I’m not surprised.”
The U.S. started with possession as overtime began, and Coach Young put the ball into the hands of the 6’5” Young, the team’s leading scorer in the tournament, and called for a specific shot toward the gap of the Ukraine defense.
“That one shot, over a month ago I told Cal that shot is going to come in and you’re going to hit something,” Coach Young said. “When we went into overtime, I called the shot and the kid hit it.”
Young’s shot was indeed on the mark and quickly ended the game before Ukraine had a chance to go on offense.
“Coach Young called it and I’m never going to argue with the coach,” Calahan Young said laughingly. “I was running on an empty tank and put everything I could into that shot. Thirteen years of playing goalball has finally paid off. I’m a first-time Paralympian and this had been my dream since I was a little kid.”
That dream of Young’s will have a day off on Wednesday before the U.S. faces China in Thursday’s semifinal at 1:15 p.m. local time (12:15 a.m. EDT). Turnstone said China defeated host nation Japan 7-4 earlier in the day to reach the semifinals.
The USA Women’s Goalball Team will face the Russian Paralympic Committee in their quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. local time (6:30 a.m. EDT). All games are live-streamed at https://www.nbcolympics.com/schedule/sport/goalball/paralympics.
USA Women’s Goalball:
- Aug. 25 USA v Brazil 8:30 PM (JST) 7:30 AM (EST) 4:30 AM (PST) – Won 6-4
- Aug. 27 USA v Egypt 7:00 PM (JST) 6:00 AM (EST) 3:00 AM (PST) – Won 10-0
- Aug. 28 USA v Japan 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EST) 9:15 PM (PST) (Aug 27th) – Lost 2-3
- Aug. 30 USA v Turkey 7:30 PM (JST) 6:30 AM (PST) 3:30 AM (PST) – Won 4-3
- Sept. 1 quarterfinals vs Russian Paralympic Committee 7:30 PM (JST) 6:30 AM (EDT) 3:30 AM (PDT)
- Sept. 2 semifinals
- Sept. 3 medal matches
USA Men’s Goalball
- Aug. 26 USA v Brazil 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EST) 9:15 PM (PST) (Aug 25th) – Won 8-6
- Aug. 27 USA V Japan 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EST) 9:15 PM (PST) (Aug 26th) – Lost 11-1
- Aug. 29 USA v Algeria 5:30 PM (JST) 4:30 AM (EST) 1:30 AM (PST) – Won 13-5
- Aug. 30 USA v Lithuania 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EST) 9:15 PM (PST) (Aug 29th) – Lost 3-13
- Aug. 31 quarterfinals vs Ukraine 3:00 PM (JST) 2:00 AM (EDT) 11:00 PM (PDT) (Aug. 30) – Won 5-4 (OT)
- Sept. 2 semifinals vs China 1:15 PM (JST) 12:15 AM (EDT) 9:15 PM (PDT) (Sept. 1)
- Sept. 3 medal matches
Goalball Schedule: https://olympics.com/…/schedule/para-goalball-schedule…