Tuesday, September 4, 2012

London, England — A winless Australia women’s national goalball team met the United States in group play yesterday night at London’s Copper Box and failed to pick up their first win, going down 0–3.

Prior to the start of the game, both team’s fans made themselves heard with Australian supporters chanting “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” and United States fans chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” The United States’s Jen Armbruster scored all three of the United States goals, one of them coming off a penalty shot. While the United States had no fouls in the game, Australia had four for high balls.

The two teams played with contrasting styles. The United States spent most of their time upright, only dropping and lunging to block the ball after the Australians threw it. Meanwhile, the Australians spent most of their time low and close to the ground as they lunged to prevent the ball from going into the goal. The Australians, who were all wearing green and gold socks, were louder than the United States and talked to each other more while on court.

Australia came into the match having lost 1–3 to both Japan and Canada. They have one game left to play at the London Paralympics when the play Sweden, who have lost 1–5 to the United States, tied Japan 0–0 and beaten Canada 2–1.

With a 5–1 win against Sweden and a 1–2 loss to Japan, the United States still has to play Canada in pool play.

Goalball was created in 1946 as a sport exclusively for people with a visual disability and designed to help veterans returning from World War II with their rehabilitation. Games in the Paralympics have two twelve minute periods, with a three minute break between halves. Players are blindfolded to insure equal ability to see while on the court, and the game can be stopped to ensure goggles are properly fitted. Standing in front of a long goal, they throw the ball at the opposition team’s net who in turn try to block it by hearing the ball, which contains a bell, and using their bodies to prevent the ball from going in. The audience is asked to remain silent during play.

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