Last Saturday, the Boston ladies had an arduous and fun-filled day participating in NYCTH’s 1st Annual Jing and Jang Women’s Tournament. Six teams were in attendance including two NYC teams, DC, West Point, a newly constructed Connecticut team, and our very own Boston ladies.
The tournament started with round-robin play in two pools of 3 teams each. It was quite clear that Boston was in the more competitive pool with NYC Jang (the tournament’s winners) and a DC team composed of some experienced European players, supplemented with some fresh legs from West Point.
Boston’s first game against NYC Jang started off a little shaky. The starting team was composed of some Boston season veterans as well as a number of newcomers: Steffi Brueckel (back), Inge Kloos (back), Nataliya Medyanyk (wing), and Kadia Sow (wing). As the court players tried to find a working rhythm between their different handball styles in offense, defense was exceptionally strong. NYC Jang has a former Bundesliga player that Boston was able to keep under control with their aggressive defense and some amazing saves by goalies Dina Kahriman and Blandine Antoine. Boston’s offense finally started to work together and made a great comeback in the second half, but ultimately it was not enough to surpass NYC Jang, and the ladies fell to NYC 13:12. It was a tough fight.
The next pool play game pitted our ladies against DC. Even though it was the second game of the day, Boston seemed to be full of energy, both in offense and defense. New back player Steffi Brueckel unleashed her cannon of a shot and Inge Kloos showed versatility in many position on the court. Also, there were a number of well-placed passes between the backs and wings, as well as some key chemistry-filled passes between the Wing, Pivot combination of Erin Kizer and Anne Coulter! The score remained close during most of the game, but Boston was determined not to lose, or else they would have to concede to fighting for 5th place in the tournament…and 3rd place just sounded so much better. In the end, the Boston ladies were able to achieve a strong upper hand during the last few minutes of the game and edged out DC with a score of 19:16.
The last and third game of the day was the battle for 3rd place between Boston and the cadets from West Point. Going into the game, Boston had experience and skill on their side, but West Point would have speed and endurance even until the very last minute of the game. The game started off quite intensely, and that level of intensity only seemed to escalate as the game progressed. The Boston ladies exhibited some outstanding defense that managed to shut down most of West Point’s scoring attempts. Boston’s offense was definitely much better than the beginning of the day, but there just seemed to be a collective difficulty of getting the shots to the goal. Sanja Popovic, the Boston Pivot, was making some amazing picks in the West Point defense to aid the offense in their attempts. By the half, things were basically tied. As soon as the second half started, the whole gym knew this fight for 3rd place would be a battle to the end. As soon as Boston got ahead, West Point answered with a point, so things remained neck-and-neck for the majority of the half. Then, with about 10 minutes left, Inge, Boston’s Center Back, got injured and had to leave the game. Luckily, the Boston ladies stayed strong and the battle for the lead continued. With only 2 minutes left, another Boston player, Steffi, suffered a leg injury and was also excused from the game. Thus, with 2 minutes remaining, Boston was tied with West Point., Pivot player Anne Coulter took over as a new Left Back, and Wing player Erin Kizer filled in as a Right Back. Nataliya Medyanyk and newcomer Kadia Sow took over as the wings, leaving Boston with a very impromptu lineup to finish the game. The fans were cheering, the players were pumped, and the team’s captain was a little scared. In the last minute, Sarah Whitley decided to go for it and placed a low-aimed jumpshot at the goal which just managed to slip by the foot of the West Point goalie. The Boston girls were in the lead! Now they just needed to hold onto it for 45 seconds! The Boston defense put up a human wall like no other. West Point made at least 4 attempts to tie during those 45 seconds, but Boston put a stop to all that pressure until the very last second. Finally, a buzzer! Game over! Boston won 15:14!
In the end, the Boston ladies fought consistently hard all day under the direction of their coach Sonja Hansen. Coach Hansen said that the Boston defense was some of the best she had ever seen from the team! After such a long day of driving and playing, achieving 3rd place made the day so much sweeter.
To finish the tournament, NYC’s two teams, Jing and Jang, competed for gold in a very intense game. Despite the friendly atmosphere between the players of the two teams, the level of play was quite impressive, and NYC Jang barely squeaked by with a winning margin of 1 goal. In the 5th place game, DC’s higher level of experience helped them overpower a newly constructed Connecticut team in their 23:14 victory.
Final Game Results:
Gold: NYC Jang – NYC Jing (23:22)
Bronze: Boston – West Point (15:14)
5th Place: DC – Connecticut (23:14)