Team USA concluded the inaugural Junior Pan American Games by upsetting the top two seeds, Ecuador and Mexico, to earn the women’s team gold medal, adding to Marina Stefanoni’s individual gold Wednesday, December 1, in Cali, Colombia.
Team USA–comprised of Marina and Lucie Stefanoni and Serena Daniel–entered women’s team competition seeded 3/4 and opened up their campaign with a 3-0 win over hosts Colombia. The U.S. then pulled off an upset over top-seeded Ecuador in the semifinals with another 3-0 scoreline.
The U.S. only needed two matches to clinch the title against two seeds Mexico in Wednesday’s final with Daniel and Marina Stefanoni providing the wins over Fabiola and Dina Gomez, respectively.
“I had to play a lot of tough matches to win gold in the individual event and even more to help win gold in the team event, so I am proud to be flying back to the US with two gold medals,” said Marina Stefanoni, who celebrated her nineteenth birthday on Tuesday. “Team USA went into this event seeded as ¾ in the team event and we beat top seeds Ecuador and Mexico to win gold. Lucie, Serena, and I fought hard in our matches against great opponents, so coming home with gold medals together is something special.”
“I think the team definitely came together well, having a players like Marina at the top gives you a confidence that other team members feed off,” said Scott Devoy, U.S. Head Coach. “As a team we knew that this was about playing to the level we knew we were capable of; not worrying about who was seeded above us, controlling the things we could control and ultimately that was more than enough to achieve the success we did.”
The first-of-its-kind U23 multi-sport tournament showcased forty-one Pan American nations competing in thirty-nine sports. Marina Stefanoni now qualifies for the quadrennial 2023 Pan American Games individual competition as a result of her individual gold medal.
“It’s incredible to see squash being showcased at an event like this, so I am glad that I was able to be a part of this tournament,” Stefanoni said. “Thank you to everyone who helped send us to Cali, Colombia and thank you to all supporting staff and organizers at the event–we could not have felt more welcome.”
“Given the circumstances we are in, the girls handled everything really well,” Devoy said. “On and off court a great team and a really good representation of what US Squash should be. Huge thanks to US Squash and the USOPC for all the efforts in making this trip possible.”
For more tournament coverage visit calivalle2021.com.