Too Big To Fail – Part II
April 9, 2016
Gyor AUDI Eto – FTC Railcargo 40:23 (22:10) First leg 31:18, agg. 71:41
Before the Match
After the final whistle of the first quarter-final game in Budapest, a week ago, FTC’s defense specialist, Klara Szekeres, stated that, “we have only one goal for the second leg – to bow out with a great performance in Gyor.”
The task should become a tad more difficult because of the absence of playmaker Nerea Pena, who did not play. Dora Hornyak would assume her position as right-back at the beginning of the match.
Aside from the long-term injured players, Gyor was able to list the same players as in the first leg of the competition, but instead of Linn-Jorum Sulland, Nycke Groot would start as right-back and 20-year old Julia Harsfalvi on the left wing.
The earlier statement of Klara Szekeres remained wishful thinking. Powered by Kovacsics, Amorim and Loke, Gyor jumped to an early lead that turned into complete destruction of FTC over the course of 60 minutes. The Hungarian champion suffered a third, outsized loss within the past two weeks.
Zita Szucsanszki scored first, providing the early highlight for FTC – it would be all down hill from here on. After 15 minutes the game was effectively over. Heidi Loke had just scored the sixth of her total seven goals and coach Elek would call for his second timeout only one minute later. It would not help his team anymore. In the period that followed, FTC came completely unglued and Gyor – much to the joy of another capacity crowd – extended their advantage to 22:10 at the half. FTC’s goalkeepers, Melinda Szikora and Katarina Tomasevic, were left behind with a dismal 8% savings rate, while Gyor was shooting at a clip of 85%.
Those FTC fans that were hoping for a somewhat reduced match pace in light of Gyor’s substantial lead were soon disappointed. Coach Martin’s crew continued where they left off before the break, while rotating his bench players. Now, it was Sulland, Broch and Knedlikova who were providing most of the damage to an increasingly porous FTC defense. Without Spanish playmaker Nerea Pena, FTC was in no position to breach the rhythm of the game. In the end, Gyor had demolished coach Elek’s squad 40:23, for a combined quarter-finals score of 71:41. As a reminder – it was a game between Hungary’s champion (FTC) and last year’s number two-club. What a difference 12 months make.
Player of the Match
It’s difficult to look past Heidi Loke, not only in this game. Like a good red wine, she seems to be getting better as years go by. This match was no exception – half of Gyor’s first 12 goals, were scored by the 2015 World Champion. Luckily, she has extended her contract for one more year with the Hungarian top club.
Statistic of the Match
FTC was trailing in every single statistical category but 14 turnovers vs Gyor’s five, help to explain the colossal goal differential at the end of the game.
Highlight of the Match
Goal number six of Heidi Loke in the 15th minute of the match, when she converted a “way-too-long” pass of goalkeeper Kari Alvik Grimsbo in mid-air, with a flick of her wrist, sending the ball past Katarina Tomasevic.
Coach of the Match
For a second time within a week Ambros Martin presented his squad in razor-sharp form. There was no indication whatsoever that Gyor was taken it any easier after having amassed a goal differential of 14 at the game in Budapest. Amorim & Co. defended relentlessly, while causing havoc at the other end of the court. On Thursday, Norway’s Thorir Hergeirsson was announced IHF’s Coach of the Year 2015 but Martin is well on his way to take the honors in 2016.
Voices after the Match
“It was an amazing game today – we respect our opponent by playing our best. We are full of confidence – we don’t know what is our limit. We will try harder to see where it is.” (Coach Ambros Martin; Gyor)
“We started out very well – defense was working great. In this atmosphere at home it is so great to play. The FINAL4 will be a whole other level.” (Nycke Groot; Gyor)
“We were focusing on ourselves and on our defense and I think it showed in the 1st half. I am very satisfied how we played today.” (Heidi Loke; Gyor)
Gyor will return to Budapest for the final round of play – the EHF FINAL 4. Is Gyor too big to fail? If you ask FTC coach Gabor Elek, the answer is a resounding “yes”. After the game, he was quoted by saying, “that any team in the world would have suffered a defeat today.” In exactly four weeks, Gyor will provide the ultimate answer.
/ J. Schutz