The first round of Spain’s women’s first division goalball league got underway earlier today in Madrid, with a pair of games played concurrently on two courts at Centros de Recursos Educativos ONCE. In the second session game on the right court, Madrid beat Gipuzkoa 3 – 1.
The game immediately started with a penalty against Madrid with number 3 for Gipuzkoa unable to get the ball past number 1. The Madrid team had no subs on their bench, while Gipuzkoa had 2. Early on, both teams looked very evenly matched. There was a break while the goggles for number 2 of Madrid were fixed.
There were a lot of block outs for both teams. While most players started in a crouching position, Madrid’s center number 3 started from a standing position. Both teams were really good at hearing the ball and getting two players line up to block it. Madrid took a time out.
While much lower scoring in the first half than the earlier game between the Canaries and Catalunya, the overall quality of play was much higher. Players had much better situational awareness on the court. Number 2 for Gipuzkoa scored by getting the ball in the corner past number 1 for Madrid, who only managed to get a hand on it. Following their goal, Gipuzkoa took a timeout. When play resumed, it looked like Gipuzkoa was trying to take advantage of the weakness in the corner by shooting in that direction. Number 3 for Gipuzkoa almost got a goal past number 3 for Madrid right before the half ended 1 – 0. In the game on the other court, Montesinos Murcia finished the half losing 0 – 4 to Sevilla.
Not that late, player number 1 scored for Madrid after the ball bounced up against and then over the legs of number 4 for Gipuzkoa. This tied up the game. There were fewer block outs at the start of the second half, as both teams appeared to make an effort to grab the ball and quickly go for a shot. Madrid’s number 3 scored again, lobbing the ball to the right and having it bounce over the legs of number 2 for Gipuzkoa, with number 4 behind her unprepared after the failure of the initial stop. Number 3 for Madrid used her power to get the ball to bounce over the player when it stopped after making contact. Up 3 – 1, Madrid took a timeout.
Number 1’s up ahead play caused some problems as the rebound issue almost resulted in more goals for Madrid when she played too far off center. The game was stopped for goggle fix on number 3 of Gipuzkoa. Quick grab a shot and return almost led to Gipuzkoa number 2 scoring as Madrid appeared surprise when the ball arrived on their side. Madrid looked like they were trying to distribute their shooting after going up but number 1 kept throwing the ball out. Number 2 for Madrid made a fantastic cross court save after number 1 bobbled the ball and it almost went in. Gipuzkoa then took a timeout. Game ended 3 – 1 in favor of Madrid.
The contest was an important one as it gave additional high level domestic experience to Spain’s women national team players. The team currently has ten players, all of whom were competing today. The national squad is still looking to qualify for the 2016 Summer Paralympics, and those ten will eventually be cut down to five ahead of the 2015 IBSA World Games in Seoul. The team plans to use as their qualifying path as going through the European Championships is much more difficult as there is much greater depth in Europe than there is in the Americas where there are only really three teams, and Africa which is still looking for a women’s team to be created.