26 Aug. 2021
For the second time in history, Puerto Rico were crowned Women's North America and the Caribbean champions. After comfortably beating Greenland in the final 34:24, they not only claimed the title, but also qualified for the 25th IHF Women's World Championship, which will be held in Spain from 1 to 19 December.
Four teams – Puerto Rico, Greenland, Mexico and USA – took part in the 2021 Women's North America and the Caribbean Championship, which was held in Elgin, USA, from 22 to 25 August. The competition was organised by USA Team Handball and played under strict COVID-19 protocols which included no spectators.
The championship started in a round-robin format, which was held from Sunday till Tuesday. The two teams with the most points progressed to the final, and these two sides were known already after two match days.
Both Puerto Rico and Greenland did well, as Puerto Rico defeated the home side USA 28:20 and then beat Mexico 29:24, while Greenland were too strong for the same rivals – Mexico (33:27) and USA (28:18).
On the third competition day, Greenland beat Puerto Rico in a tight battle 26:23 to finish first in the round-robin tournament with the maximum of six points, while Puerto Rico were second with four points. On the same day, Mexico claimed their first points, defeating USA 25:21.
The same pairings of teams faced each other on Wednesday. In the final match, Puerto Rico took a convincing revenge win against Greenland, winning 34:24. Puerto Rico did particularly well in the first half, as they were clearly dominant and led by eight goals at the break, 18:10. In the second half, the fight was tighter, but ultimately Puerto Rico managed to further increase their advantage and ultimately clinch an impressive 10-goal victory.
Medalla ? de Oro para Puerto Rico y el boleto al Mundial Espana 2021. pic.twitter.com/g92iZatGpD— PuertoRico Balonmano (@balonmanopur) August 26, 2021
It was the fourth edition of the Women's North America and the Caribbean Championship, and Puerto Rico won it for the second time after claiming the title in 2017. Cuba, who did not participate this year, won the competition in 2015 and 2019.
For Greenland, second place is a historic achievement. They had participated in all three previous editions of the tournament, finishing fourth in 2015 and 2017 and third in 2019, so they may take pride in their steady progress despite losing the final.
In the third-place match, Mexico were again too strong for USA. In the first half, the Mexicans limited their rivals to just five goals, leading 13:5, and they went on to win 28:14, earning their second podium place after claiming silver in 2015.
32-year-old Puerto Rican left back Sheila Hiraldo was awarded the MVP of the championship. The All-star team is as follows: goalkeeper – Sophie Fasold (USA), left wing – Zuleika Fuentes (Puerto Rico), left back – Lykke Hansen (Greenland), centre back – Nathanys Ceballos (Puerto Rico), right back – Josephine Gardaard (Greenland), right wing – Jailene Maldonado (Puerto Rico), line player – Ivana Holm (Puerto Rico).
Puerto Rico will participate in the Women’s World Championship for the second time. In their maiden appearance in 2015, they finished 20th.
Photo: USA Team Handball