On Sunday, December 15, 2013, the Women's Los Angeles Team Handball Club (LATHC) returned from their first international competition with exceptional memories and the title of Central American Champions of the Copa El Salvador tournament.
The team's journey to victory began on Monday, December 10 as the team was welcomed to the Villa Cari athlete resort by volunteer and local El Salvador residents. For LATHC coach David Portillo, this was his first visit to his home country in five years, which provided a new level of motivation for himself and the team. While Coach Portillo provided the motivation and energy, Coach Julio Sainz brought the calmness and experience with his extensive years of international handball experience as a player and coach.
LATHC opened tournament play against a strong and prepared Guatemala National Team. Despite facing an aggressive offense, LATHC found themselves tied throughout the first half. Backed by the strong play of goalkeeper Camilla Oerberg, LATHC powered through the second half and came out with a 20-17 victory.
In their second match, LATHC took on Costa Rica. As the game went on, LATHC's strong defense in the first game struggled against a fast-paced Costa Rican offense. With a few maneuvers and adjustments, LATHC found themselves with another victory, this time at the score of 26-24.
Semi final action saw LATHC square off against an extremely fast Nicaraguan team. Unlike the tall American and European teams, Nicaragua's shorter height provided a unique challenge to LATHC. Even with the new challenge, LATHC pulled away for a 29-21 victory and a chance to play in the final match. In the other semi final match, it took a last-second goal by Guatemala to get by El Salvador.
The championship match started much like the first game of the tournament, with Guatemala's aggressive offense and LATHC's defensive strategy providing a high level of excitement. Like the opening match, LATHC's defensive strategy wore Guatemala down, allowing LATHC to claim the trophy.
When looking at the experience of the team outside of the court, players and coaches left with many memories. The team hiked a volcano and visited gorgeous beaches while experiencing absurd local traffic and a pair of earthquakes, one of which registered 5.4.
On another note, LATHC own Coach Portillo, together with his refereeing partner, Abderrahmane Bendahmane (Ben), made a huge impression on the Handball Community of Central America. With their experience refereeing international competition, the refereeing team took on many games during the tournament and brought the level of competition to another level.
As fantastic as the trip was, none of it would have been possible had it not been for LATHC sponsors Select Sport America, Intersport, and Omayma Villanueva, owner and creator of Chef and Kitchen.
ROSTER OF COPA EL SALVADOR:
2. SOfiya Hristoforova Pascual
3. Anita Simko
5. Desiree Nguyen
7. Diva Desai
9. Karina Katalina Moreno Chavez
12. Camilla Oerberg
14. Julia Taylor
19. Alyssa Arias
20. Camilla Soerensen
21. Constance Celia Michele Duvert
77. Trine Bay Larsen
Coach: David Portillo
Coach: Julio Sainz