Fall and its colorful foliage had covered Montreal as San Francisco’s CalHeat flew across the country and border to attend “le tournoi de l’action de grace”. The tournament hosted by the Montreal Celtic Handball Club featured US (Boston, San Francisco, West Point) as well as Canadian (Laval, Sherbrooke, Montreal, Québec) teams. The level of handball was perfect for a season opener, a blend of young, fast paced teams along with more seasoned groups.
CalHeat Men started the tournament very strong, winning both of their Saturday games against the Québec junior selection and the West Point Gold delegation. On Sunday morning the long awaited face-off with Laval did not fail to deliver and surely got the crowd on their feet. CalHeat displayed some of their best defense to lead 8 to 3 at half-time. Needless to say that after defeating the Montreal Celtic’s first team on Saturday, Laval was not expecting to have such a hard time against a team with barely any bench. San Francisco played smart and efficient Handball. Keeping their composure in defense and patience in offense, CalHeat ended the game on top. The victory however took a heavy toll, and against Celtique’s first team CalHeat could only sustain their lead until the last 10 minutes of this final game before conceding their only defeat of the tournament.
The girls from CalHeat Women’s team arrived in high spirits and were excited to take on the tough challenge ahead. Since the team only had about 3 weeks to practice together, we all agreed that we would see this tournament as a good opportunity to work hard, have fun and learn. First up we faced off with West Point, whom as always puts up a good fight. It was hard getting into the rhythm we wanted and many of us had difficulties adjusting to the field. We came out victorious but had a feeling we could play a lot better than this and we set off to prove that in our second game.
Our second opponents were a Canadian team named Celtique whom were the hosting team. They took us by surprise and played a high defense. We got stuck and had difficulties with moving without the ball. Their goalkeepers started to show off and we did only manage to score 2 goals the entire first half. Frustrated and agitated we went to half time rest and our coach Michi managed to get through to us. Determined to put on a fight til the end we entered the field. We finally hit a break and started to score, we played with two circles to make up for their high defense and it worked. The second half ended 8-8 and we felt happy and good leaving the field.
On Sunday we met Celtique team again. This time the feeling and spirit was different. The team was focused on the task ahead, we needed to show them we meant business and that, from the very start. This time we believe we gave them quite the shock, since we scored 4 goals almost immediately and they had none. The game was even all the way to the end and it did not really felt like a loss. We felt like we improved.
When it was time for our fourth game, we were exhausted. It took a lot of cheering and running to get the team moving. But what our body’s won’t do, our will can! This game was physical, the Canadian team named Laval also had a high defense and they were strong. We had a hard time but also showed them the strength of CalHeat. We never gave up, our will carried us through this game and it was an even game. It could actually have gone either way. We enjoyed playing against this very skilled team and they had us on our toes the entire game.
Throughout these 4 games we had tremendous help from two Canadian players. Sabrina (goalkeeper) kept us in the game, over and over again. She did amazing saves and was stunningly fast between the goalposts. Alex (left back) showed good defense skills and challenged the other teams one on one. Last but not least Liz (right wing) from LA completed our team and showed us what handball is all about. We could not have had such a beautiful tournament without them.
This was an excellent first tournament and we know what we have to work on for future games. We enjoyed the good and very skilled teams that we faced off with. Playing against better teams only benefits us. We saw, we learned and we definitely felt them. Handball is tough, handball is fun!
Thank you Montreal! The organization, atmosphere, refereeing and handball were all terrific. We look forward to coming back with a full roster and playing to exchange the two Bronze we got for the Golds!
Oooh Canada, oooh Canada 🙂
By Johanna and Francis
Press Release: Press Release Montreal Outcome 2016