Canada finds redemption in goalball win over Israel

Second-half explosion opens up close match

Picture of Team Canada's Meghan Mahon diving to save a ball.
Team Canada's Meghan Mahon, here diving to make a stop in a previous game, helped lead Canada to a key win in Tokyo. Courtesy Canadian Paralympic Committee

Emma Reinke scored four times to lead Canada’s women’s goalball team to a 6-2 victory over Israel in their second match at the Tokyo Paralympics, on Thursday.

Canada came into the match 0-1 in the tournament after a 5-1 loss to reigning world champions the Russian Paralympic Committee.

Israel sat at 1-0 after defeating Australia 11-1, forcing the mercy rule in their first preliminary match of the tournament, but Canadian head coach Trent Farebrother was confident his team was ready.

“We executed our game plan very well tonight and that’s how you beat a top-ranked team like Israel,” said Farebrother. “We didn’t let the loss against Russia get us down.”

Canada and Israel were fairly matched with 105 and 107 throws respectively, but the game came down to defence. The Canadians out-blocked Israel 89-85, letting just two throws sneak past their goal line.

The three Canuck starters, Maryam Salehizadeh, Meghan Mahon, and Reinke, remained on the court for the entirety of each half, and in her Paralympic debut, St. Thomas native Reinke stole the show.

In a slow starting match, Reinke opened the scoring with the only goal of the first half, sneaking it past right-winger Elham Mahamid Ruzin in the corner of Israel’s net. 

Reinke wouldn’t stop there – just 14 seconds into the second half she scored again, cushioning her team’s lead. The Paralympic rookie went on to score Canada’s next two goals, but she credits her success in the match to her defensive backing.

“I was just trying to be accurate and hit the sweet spots,” said Reinke. “Our defence was the top priority and the shots second. Usually that’s how the goals come.”

Goals continued for Canada with help from Salehizadeh, who is originally from Tehran, Iran and came to Vancouver as a refugee. The right winger was named the Best Offensive Player at the 2010 and 2014 Asian Para Games, and proved that title in her match against Israel, adding two goals to Reinke’s four.

Or Mizrahi finally put Israel on the board after an error from Canada. The Holon resident bounced the ball right between Reinke and Timmins native Mahon, making the game 5-1 before Salehizadeh scored her second goal.

The Israeli team favours the discus-type throw, spinning around before releasing the ball, but this tactic wasn’t proving effective against the Canadians until the final minutes of the game when Israeli team captain Lihi Ben David put one past Mahon – a goal she had been fighting for with a total of 52 throws.

With Thursday’s win, the Canadian women’s goalball team moves into the number three spot in Group C, behind the RPC and Israel – four of the five teams in each group will move on to the knockout stage.

Canada is set to face Australia in their next match on Saturday at 9 a.m. JST, Friday at 8 p.m. EST.

In a previous version of the story the time difference was confused and the wrong dates for Canada’s next game were printed. The Observer apologizes for the error.

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Posted: Aug 26 2021 2:33 pm
Filed under: Goalball Parasports Sports Tokyo Paralympics