For this year’s nationals, the SF CalHeat women team traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with high hopes of performing well and accomplishing a better standing than the previous season. This year Calheat had a full roster of very strong players from different nationalities; it is always great to see the women team grow from year to year. They were led by Alf and Martin who provided expertise and worked really hard to prepare them for this tournament.
CalHeat kicked off the tournament by meeting New York City Handball club. The real struggle during this first game of the tournament was managing an external component: the glue. During the first half of the game they showed enormous fighting spirit and at half time the score was only 5-4. It was tight and it was even, and they tried hard to keep up with a fast and strong New York team but were unable to follow through all the way. The game ended 20-9 and New York walked away with their first win.
SF CalHeat faced off Alberta in their second pool game which they had already played against at California Cup in Fremont earlier in the season. As the spectators would agree, it was a fun game to watch. SF CalHeat showed a great defense, and their goal keeper Freddie made amazing saves. Unfortunately that was not enough to stop Alberta’s young players who were quick and played a fast-paced game. Although CalHeat did well keeping up with them throughout the game they did not manage to get the last goal in and lost to Alberta by 3 goals.
The third pool game was against the East Coast team West Point. CalHeat always enjoys playing against these girls as they show the true spirit of the sport: they play disciplined and with love for the game. This was a must-win-game for CalHeat to advance in the tournament and play quarter finals. They managed to pull through as a team, played really well and took home their first win with a 26-6 score.
In the quarter final, CalHeat drew Team Rouge which was nothing other than the USA National team. This was the most physical game they had. The first 25 minutes CalHeat managed to keep up with them both in speed and in strength. It goes without saying that their goalkeeper Freddie had a huge impact on the game as she saved 4 fast breaks in a row and was just a beast between the goal posts. After a few injuries and a couple of questionable 2 mins CalHeat ended up losing the game and consequently their chances of advancement. One could feel their disappointment as well as satisfaction as they played really well. The overall feeling was that this year, the inches were not on their side. The luck was just not with them.
The women team played two more placement games after being eliminated in the quarter finals. They won against Boston and lost again against Alberta. Overall the competition was fierce during the 2017 National championship, it was a great experience for everyone and the women really grew as a team. It was also nice to see how handball is growing in the USA and how much all the teams are improving from year to year. The USATH Open Nationals 2017 was a very fun and engaging tournament and CalHeat returned back to California already excited for next season.