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U.S. Wheelchair Rugby Finishes World Championship Group Play 4-1

by Luke Hanlon

Chuck Aoki scores a try late in the first half against Team Great Britain during the gold-medal game at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 29, 2021 in Tokyo.

 

The U.S. wheelchair rugby team is on the hunt for its first world championship since 2010. 
The run to win gold at the 2022 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship in Vejle, Denmark, is off to a good start for the Americans, who finished group play Thursday with a 4-1 record. 
The U.S. — ranked No. 3 in the world — concluded group play with a rematch of last summer’s Paralympic gold-medal match. In Tokyo, Great Britain defeated the U.S. 54-49 for the nation’s first Paralympic gold in wheelchair rugby. On Thursday, the U.S. revered its fortunes, defeating the Brits 55-49. Sarah Adam, one of two women on the team, was named the Player of the Match. 
This year’s U.S. team includes eight Paralympians on the 12-person roster, including Josh Wheeler and Chuck Aoki, who led the team in scoring in last year’s gold-medal match. Newcomers Adam and Liz Dunn are the first two women to represent the U.S. wheelchair rugby team at the world championship.
Of the four wins in the group stage for the U.S., the score in the Great Britain match was the closest. The Americans won by an average of 13.7 points in their previous three wins. Team USA beat Germany 56-45, Australia 50-39, and Switzerland 54-35.
The one loss in the group came against France, the No. 4-ranked team in the world. The U.S. held a three-try lead at halftime, but the French battled back to earn a dramatic 49-48 victory. That win helped France win Group A with an undefeated 5-0 record.
The U.S. finished in second place in the group. It compiled a plus-46 point differential and allowed just 217 points, the fewest so far in the tournament. 
While the Americans haven’t won gold at the world championship since 2010, they have medaled at every tournament since the inaugural one held in 1995. That included bronze medals in 2014 and 2018.
To keep that medal streak alive, the U.S. will need to defeat No. 6-ranked Canada in the quarterfinals on Friday. Canada finished third in Group B with a 3-2 record and a plus-29 point differential. The tournament runs through Sunday.


Luke Hanlon is a sportswriter and editor based in Minneapolis. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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