RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Canada’s men’s and women’s goalball teams both struggled mightily in their respective opening matches at the Paralympics on Friday at Future Arena.
Defence was expected to be part of each squad’s strategy, but instead, both were victims of offensive onslaughts.
The men, up against the host nation, were lit up 11-3, while the women were defeated 12-4 by Turkey, with 10 of those goals going unanswered.
Both Canadian teams admitted they had anticipated tough matches, but the men’s experience appeared to be on a completely different level, having to deal with much more than just the impressive Brazilian athletes.
“We had a training camp in Toronto and a few of the gyms had noise,” said Nathalie Seguin, head coach of the men’s side, following their loss. “It was a good practice just before Rio … It’s difficult to replicate the [level of noise of the Brazilian fans in attendance].”
Spectators are asked to remain quiet during rallies, which results in a buildup of excitement by the crowd to be released whenever a goal is finally scored. Locked in a stalemate 5:37 into the first half, Brazil finally broke the draw on a powerful throw from Leomon Moreno, sending the arena into pandemonium.
The two nations last squared off in Toronto during the 2015 Parapan Am Games, and according to Seguin her guys put forth a much better effort here in Rio. The coach, along with team member Bruno Hache, said their top takeaway is that they were able to keep the game close for as long as they did.
On the women’s side, Canada also started well, with Amy Bruk scoring a couple of goals in the first two minutes of the game. Unfortunately, Turkey responded immediately and proceed to go on that impressive run of 10 straight goals.
“We just tried to forget about [Turkey’s run],” said Bruk. “We know if we can have solid defence we can win games. We really don’t worry about the offence, that will come, it’s our defence that needs to be 100 per cent of every single second of that game and it kind of got away from us.
“They came out strong like we expected but it’s nice to know we punched some goals straight through them and if we see them again it’s not going to be that high of a scoring game, that’s for sure.”
Next up for the men is Germany on Friday, while the women have a rest day and will take on Ukraine on Sunday.