The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) hosted the 2018 US Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) High School Goalball National Championships on November 1-3, 2018, in the Copeland Fitness Center. Six girls teams and eight boys teams from across the country traveled to St. Augustine to compete for the championship title and a chance at a spot on the medal stand. The action on the court was intense, with several close-scoring games. The participating teams, their fans, and spectators witnessed an incredible competition, with the FSDB home teams proving to be outstanding within the tournament field.
The FSDB Lady Cobras were looking to make history by being the first team to win four consecutive goalball national championships. They won all five pool play matches, which made them the number one seed in tournament play. The semifinal game featured a rematch of the 2017 National Championship game between FSDB and their friendly rivals from Utah. While the 2017 game was a nail-biter (4-3), this year’s matchup saw the Lady Cobras cruise to a 10-0 victory.
In the gold medal match, the FSDB Lady Cobras faced off against newcomer Alabama School for the Blind (ASB) Redskins. The FSDB was again dominant, going on to win 10-0, claiming the 2018 USABA Goalball High School National Championship gold medal. The Lady Cobras displayed a dominant defense, only surrendering two goals and a prolific offense that racked up 68 goals, both school records. During the post-tournament awards, FSDB players Brianna Cruz, Aaliyah Ferguson, and Zoe Wilson were named to the six-player 2018 All-American Goalball Team, including Ferguson as the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament.
The FSDB Boys Goalball team came into the tournament looking to win their first title since 2008. Despite their relative youth, the Cobras went into the event with a plan, maturity, and intangibles that helped minimize their lack of experience. The Cobras won all three games in pool play, which earned them the number one seed for tournament play. Each time the team faced adversity, they responded with a solid defense and precision offensive execution. In the semifinals, FSDB faced off against the Texas School for the Blind/Visually Impaired (TSBVI). In a back-and-forth battle, the Cobras came out on top 8-6 and advanced to the championship bracket.
In the gold medal match, FSDB Cobras competed against the Utah Havoc, a familiar opponent from pool play who they had beaten 5-3 previously. After Utah jumped out to an early lead, FSDB clawed their way back to tie the score. Scoring became a back and forth affair with each team taking the lead at various points. However, the Cobras started to find the back of the net over several possessions to gain a comfortable edge. In the end, the FSDB Cobras held on for a 12-8 victory to capture the 2018 USABA Goalball High School National Championship gold medal. During the post-tournament awards, the FSDB team earned the Tournament Sportsmanship Award, with players Lukas Horton and Tre’Shaun Faison named to the 2018 All-American team, including Faison as the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament.
Watch archived games on the FSDB Livestream channel.
Read above FSDB story as reprinted in St. Augustine Record (November 27, 2018).
The 2018 USABA High School Goalball National Championships Results:
Girls 1. Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind Cobras (Gold Medal) 2. Alabama School for the Blind Redskins (Silver Medal) 3. Utah Rage (Bronze Medal) 4. Georgia Academy for the Blind Panthers 5. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Wildcats 6. Washington State School for the Blind Lionesses
Boys 1. Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind Cobras (Gold Medal) 2. Utah Havoc (Silver Medal) 3. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Wildcats (Bronze Medal) 4. California Wolves 5. South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind 6. Alabama School for the Blind Redskins (Silver Medal) 7. Georgia Academy for the Blind Panthers 8. Washington State School for the Blind Lions
Girls All-American Team 1. Aaliyah Ferguson (Most Outstanding Player) – Florida 2. Zoe Wilson – Florida 3. Brianna Cruz – Florida 4. Elizabeth Chantry – Utah 5. Randi Platt – Alabama 6. Jayla Jackson – Georgia
Boys All-American Team 1. Tre’Shaun Faison (Most Outstanding Player) – Florida 2. Lukas Horton – Florida 3. Ricky Casteneda – Texas 4. Logan Cooper – California 5. Chase Hanna – South Carolina 6. Shane Huking – Utah
Sportsmanship Awards 1. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Wildcats – Girls 2. Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind Cobras – Boys