Similarly to the previous season, our club sent four teams – two women, two men – to compete at the season’s close up in Myrtle Beach, SC (May 24-26).
In a competitive and thrilling women’s division, San Francisco CalHeat I was set to match up first against Alberta. Slightly shaken up in the beginning of the game, our first ladies team took control over the game and maintained a short lead throughout the main time. However, Alberta managed to get a draw in the last minutes to give a strong head start in the group (18:18).
At the same time, San Francisco CalHeat II faced DC Diplomats, a regular US Top-4 team. Led by the experience of some of our former players (Kathrine Agger, Rebecka Kindeberg, Agustina Amiconi), our second ladies team took a 1-goal lead at halftime. However, DC started strong in the second half and progressively claimed control of the game to finish with a secured 2-goal win (24:22).
The next games for both teams came to be their first real test. Our first team played a strong and surprising team of Chicago Inter and, despite putting up a good fight in the first half, did not have the resources to remain in close contact with the girls of the Midwest (25:19).
The second team had the hard task to play Boston, bronze medalist from last year’s Nationals. Unfortunately, this game came too early in the tournament and ended up with another defeat (24:16). In the third and last game of round robin, our first team still had the chance to qualify for the semi finals if they would beat the Northeast Team handball Champion, New York City. The World’s Handball Club started full power, but our ladies responded very well, led by their brilliant goalkeeper, Athena Del Rosario, and a compact and aggressive 3:2:1 defense. Thanks to couple goals from the back court and 7 m realizations, the ladies were just 2 goals behind at half time. But the experience played here and New York City capitalized on easy goals through fast breaks and finishes on the wings. End-result 25:15. At the same time, our second team won their first game against the newcomer Philly Team Handball 31:11.
Even though none of our ladies teams to advanced to the semis, they still had the chance to play two more games to determine the final classification. One of them was an interesting match-up between our two teams, that went into overtime and gave the second team the chance to play for the 5th place (27:25). For that same 5th place, San Francisco CalHeat II lost to Alberta (27:25), while our first team finished 7th with a win against Philly (21:14). Even though the end-result might not be the one expected, the ladies put up a good fight and showed impressive progress since the arrival of their new coach, Tina. With time, the ladies will be able to show their training on the court to climb up the ladder and conquer a medal at Nationals.
In the men’s open division, San Francisco CalHeat II delivered one of their best performances in the last few years, finishing up at the fourth place. In the round robin, the team beat Boston 2 by 30:18 and lost, without consequence, against Georgia (27:28) earning them the top seed in Group A. In the quarterfinals, the boys were set to play the Long Island Tigers. As opposed to last year, our boys were ready to take control of the game and add rhythm to the play, surprising everyone with a convincing 28:18 win. In the semifinals, the opponent were the Houston Firehawks – 2014 & 2015 US Open Champion, and regularly among the top-6 in Elite. Also, the Firehawks could count on a few players coming from Germany. Those players clearly had a big impact. Our boys battled hard, and even took the lead right before halftime to maintain it until 15-20 minutes before the end of the game. In the crunch time, Christian Loewe – brilliant in the tournament so far – took a debatable red card that surely changed the course of the game. Houston managed then to come back from behind to take the win 22:26. This game consumed a lot of energy and was the team didn’t have enough strength for the bronze medal game, lost against another newcomer, Miami Inter 18:26. Despite the defeat, the boys delivered a strong performance and will work hard for a medal in the future.
In the men’s elite division, San Francisco CalHeat won the gold and became US National Champion. This title comes in 29 years after the last championship won by the Northern Californians. We hope this is only the start of a successful story. (See article here: SF CalHeat Men is the 2019 US National Champion )
Until next year, go CalHeat!