19 May. 2023
The 2023 US Open National Championships concluded at The Podium in Spokane, Washington with USA Team Handball, in collaboration with Spokane Sports, welcoming over 400 athletes, team officials, and referees for three days of intense competition from 5 to 7 May.
On Sunday, the final day of competition, the first final of the day pitted San Francisco CalHeat II against California Eagles in the Men’s Open Division Final. CalHeat, with several members of their squad being on the United States Youth National Team, found themselves down one at the halftime break (15:14). The deficit stretched to three at full time as the Eagles claimed the title, with Robin Zoller leading the team with 9 goals.
In the Women’s Division Final, a San Francisco CalHeat squad that won its first four matches, squared off against a New York City Handball side that had only dropped one match in the tournament, a close 32:30 loss to Boston.
Micaela Millar proved to be the best player on the court on the day as she put nine goals past the CalHeat keeper, but it was Agustina Amiconi and Maria-Simona Cipaian who combined for 13 of San Francisco’s goals to help capture the trophy, winning with a final score of 30:26.
In the final match of the weekend, San Francisco completed the trifecta of having their teams reach their respective finals, with their Men’s Elite squad facing off against New York City.
A back-and-forth affair for the first half, with CalHeat leading by one at the intermission, the reigning champions never looked back and won the Men’s Elite championship with a final score of 34:30.
Drew Donlin and Benjamin Briffe each added eight goals for their squads, CalHeat and New York City respectively.
In the Men’s Open Division, Seattle HC, only a few hours from home in Spokane, took home the bronze medal with a 26:24 victory over Boston Team Handball Club.
Quebec 2 took down Boston Team Handball Club to bring a bronze medal back across the border in the Women’s Division third-place match, behind eight goals from Celine Labonte, with the final score of 25:18.
The Men’s Elite bronze medal match saw New York Athletic Club replicate their one-goal lead at halftime at the final whistle, beating Chicago Inter 24:23.
The Cindy Stinger Most Valuable Player award was won by New York City’s Micaela Millar, while Natallia Zhelnova from San Francisco CalHeat was the Pam Boyd Most Valuable Goalkeeper award winner in the Women’s Division.
In the Men’s Elite Division, Kylian Prat of New York City won the Dr. Peter Buehning Most Valuable Player award and Lucas Kroeger of San Francisco Cal Heat won the Sandor Rivnyak Most Valuable Goalkeeper award.
Robin Zoller of California Eagles won the Men’s Open Division MVP and Omar Bentahar was awarded the MVG.
The top goalscorers for each division were Kyle Colwell of Saskatchewan Juniors with 56 goals (Men’s Open), Oihane Manrique Garmin of Chicago Inter with 50 goals (Women’s), and Roberto Alcaraz of Wolves with 51 goals (Men’s Elite).
Photo: Matthew Hoang