The Canadian women’s goalball team has been eliminated from competition after falling to China 4-2.
Despite the efforts of teammates Emma Reinke and captain Amy Burk, Canada’s two goals wouldn’t be enough to push them into the quarter-finals.
Regular play was quite even between Canada and China, with 102 and 105 throws respectively. Each of the two squads also scored two goals in regulation play, but it was Canada’s penalties and late start that did them in.
“Again, it is our slow start that hurt us in the end,” said Canadian head coach Trent Farebrother. “You can’t fall behind a team like China 3-0 in the first few minutes. It’s been our downfall in this tournament.”
China’s Chen Fengqing opened the scoring just over a minute into the game with a ball that seemed to crawl over St. Thomas native Reinke.
Just two minutes later, Zhang Xiling scored the second regulation goal for China, making it 2-0 over a worried Team Canada.
The Canadians racked up two throwing penalties, one for holding the ball longer than 10 seconds and the other on a long ball that didn’t touch the neutral zone when thrown.
On penalty throws, the defending team faces off against one player from the other team in attempt to stop the throw.
China found the back of the net on a penalty throw in each half, cushioning their lead over Canada.
On the other end, the collected Chinese team didn’t take a single penalty, eliminating any chance of Canada having a one-on-one opportunity.
Trailing the game 3-0 at the half, Canada made an attempt at a comeback in the second, and Burk reassured that they weren’t about to give up.
“We told each other we were still in it and we were going to crack the Chinese armour,” said the four-time Paralympian. “We remembered not to take the fun out of the game because that is when we are at our best, when we are having fun.”
A substitution saw top goal-scorer Reinke come into the game for Marathon native Whitney Bogart. The Canadians’ strategy almost proved effective – a goal each from Reinke and Burk had them trailing just 3-2.
Then, with the less than three minutes left in the game, it looked as though Reinke would be keeping Canada’s hopes alive with a bouncing ball to the back of the net. However, a late penalty was given and Reinke’s throw called long (over the neutral zone) – a penalty goal from China’s Xiling put Canada behind 4-2, the final score of the match.
The loss for Canada followed one to Australia on Saturday, putting them 1-3 in the tournament and in last place.
After a strong win against Israel, Canada had two major upset losses to Australia and China, pushing them out of what will likely be Burk’s last Paralympic appearance.
“They were different Games for sure and the Japanese did an amazing job to pull this off,” said the Charlottetown native. “It was an honour to be part of this team. We made some great memories.”