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MNT Defeats Cuba in Final Minutes; Controls Destiny in Last Group Match

by Matthew Collins

Providing some last minute drama, Team USA was able to secure a victory in the second match of their 2023 Pan American Games campaign, defeating Cuba 30-28.

In a match that saw the largest lead for either team only grow to three goals, the USA squad executed a 6-3 run in the final 8 minutes to capture the win, and set up an important final group match versus Uruguay.

Undoubtedly, the player of the match for the Americans was Sam Hoddersen, who plays his club handball for Ademar Leon in the Spanish first division, who supplied 13 goals on the day, and being a perfect 5/5 on 7 meter penalty throws.

Two goals from Abou Fofana and a 7 meter penalty goal from Sam Hoddersen opened the match nicely for the United States, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 3 minutes of the match.

With a first half similar to the one a day ago versus Argentina, both teams traded goals, before the United States increased their lead to 3 at the halftime break, 17-14.

A quick 3-0 Cuba run out of the intermission created some deja vu for the USA, who didn't want a repeat of yesterday's match, and their lackluster second half.

Two goals by Hoddersen and another one added by Drew Donlin had the teams knotted at 20-20, as the match crossed the 10 minute mark of the second half.

With less than 9 minutes left in the game, and the Cuba having grown to three, Head Coach Robert Hedin called a timeout to dial the focus back in for the USA side.

Whatever Hedin imparted on the squad worked, as with two minutes left in the match, a Cuba turnover forced a foul on Drew Donlin, inducing a 7 meter penalty throw and a 2 minute suspension to the Cuba defender. Sam Hoddersen dispatched the penalty throw to give the USA the lead, a crucial Douglas Otterstrom save stifled the ensuing Cuba possession, and a goal from the 9 meter line from Abou Fofana with 30 seconds to go ensured a Team USA win.

When asked about Sam Hoddersen's 13 goal performance, Head Coach Robert Hedin said "We knew he had a lot of space on the wing...and it's important for the team when one player can score 13 goals."

"It's a lot," Hedin said, with a smirk.

The next test for the USA will be tomorrow against Uruguay, with the Americans needing a win or draw to book a place in the Semifinal round of the competition.