Women's handballers miss out on place in European League group phase

2023-11-19 4:27 by Borussia Dortmund–  4m read

Borussia Dortmund's women's handballers have lost the return leg of their European League third qualifying round tie against HC Dunărea Brăila 27-22. The result means BVB are eliminated from the competition.

The scenario: BVB lost the first leg at the Helmut Körnig-Halle in Dortmund by a 25-24 scoreline a week ago and were denied at least a draw with a matter of seconds remaining. They therefore needed to win by a two-goal margin if they were to still make it into the group phase.

Personnel matters: Injury woes continue to plague BVB. In addition to the two long-term injuries to Dana Bleckmann and Lena Degenhardt (both cruciate ligament ruptures), left winger Zoë Sprengers will also miss the coming months due to a knee injury.

The match & analysis: The Borussia ladies had obviously processed the somewhat unfortunate 25-24 loss in the first leg by the following week, getting off to a very good start in front of 2,000 spectators. The defence was solid, while the attack scored through Harma van Kreij and Carmen Campos. BVB led 6-4 after 12 minutes.

All the signs pointed towards BVB achieving what had been cast in considerable doubt this week. They battled for every ball. Beating HC Braila in their own arena suddenly seemed possible, despite the frenetic support from the crowd in the hall.

But the Romanians would not be shaken off. They turned the game around, going from 6-4 behind to 8-6 in front within the space of five minutes. Borussia coach Henk Groener called a first time-out and it had an impact. After two goals from Alicia Stolle and another from Lisa Antl, the score was 9-9 eight minutes before the break. BVB were back in contention.

Braila stepped up the tempo once again shortly before the break, scoring four goals in a row to make it 13-9, while BVB were denied time and time again by Braila shot-stopper Kira Trusova. The fans in the hall went wild. BVB failed to score from the 22nd to the 30th minute. Certainly a decisive phase in the match. To make matters worse, Campos also missed a seven-metre throw seconds before half-time and the visitors went in at the break trailing by four goals (13-9).

It was a similar story in the second period. In a match that was fiercely contested by both sides, BVB kept themselves in contention and reduced the deficit to 16-13 in the 40th minute through Swede Emma Olsson. When Maraike Kusian pulled it back to 18-16 in the 44th minute, BVB were back to within two goals.

The game was all-but ended as a contest in the 50th minute. The Romanians threw into an empty BVB net twice, pulling away into a 23-18 lead. Though the Borussia ladies did not throw in the towel, the deficit did not get any smaller. It was 25-20 with five minutes to go – BVB were pretty much beaten and could not force the turnaround in the closing stages. Braila ultimately won 27-22.

Reactions: Coach Henk Groener: "We were already struggling in attack in the first half. Nine goals is simply not enough. We were within two goals at times, but made simple mistakes in attack. That also led to Braila throwing into an empty net when it was 7 on 6. That decided the match."

Tess Lieder: "We simply didn't score enough goals and were often denied by the opposition goalkeeper, who had a very good day. At some point we also lost the belief in ourselves, then things got very difficult. It was a great but also very difficult atmosphere. Perhaps we were still too inexperienced for it."

Alicia Stolle: "We were deservedly knocked out by a strong opponent. We now need to start from scratch again."

Rupert Thiele: "It was a strong game from both sides. We simply made too many mistakes. If our number of mistakes had been lower, we could have won. Of course I'm disappointed that we didn't achieve our second objective of the season."

Outlook: While goalkeeper Sarah Wachter and pivot Lisa Antl (Germany), Emma Olsson (Sweden), Carmen Campos (Spain) and Harma van Kreij and Tess Lieder (Netherlands) are preparing with their national teams for the Handball World Cup, the Bundesliga campaign will now pause for several weeks. BVB's next outing will be for the league's top match. On Wednesday 27 December, reigning champions and league leaders SG BBM Bietigheim will pay a visit to the Helmut Körnig-Halle. Throw-off is at 19:30 CET.

Women's handballers: Lieder, Wachter; Hausherr (4/2), Kusian (3), Antl (2), van Kreij (2), Stolle (4), Ossenkopp, Sasaki, Olsson (3), Rønning (2), Egeling, Campos (2)

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