They Did It Again
December 20, 2015
After thrashing the Netherlands in the 2015 World Championship final, Norway now occupies all three thrones in women´s handball.
By Peter Bruun
Women´s 2015 World Championship Final
Netherlands vs Norway 23:31 (9:20)
In the shadows of yet another scandal at the International Handball Federation – council members Leon Kalin and Sandi Sola left the organization after a turbulent meeting on Saturday night – it was refreshing to be reminded on what it really matters: Handball – performed on the court. Unfortunately, the Netherlands was unable to offer Norway much resistance, to make the match an exciting one for the 12,147 spectators, at Jyske Bank Boxen, in Herning. Still – plenty of fine handball was played.
Norway in total control
As a matter of fact, the final was decided at half-time, already. Aside from Estavana Polman scoring the first goal, giving the Netherlands a 1:0 lead after 25 second, Norway was in complete control throughout the first thirty minutes. The feared Dutch back-court was no match for a physically strong Norwegian defense and when the orange clad players took a shot, Kari Grimsbø, Norway’s goalkeeper, often denied it. On the other side of the court, Norway’s attack was clicking on all cylinders – the performances of goalkeeper Kari Alvik Grimsbo, line-player Heidi Løke and left-wing Camilla Herrem stuck out from otherwise compact teamwork, orchestrated by Stine Bredal Oftedal.
Norway’s 11-goal half-time lead was too much to overcome. Still, the Netherlands managed to reclaim a bit of honor in the final 30 minutes of play, when Norway lost some concentration. The Dutch women narrowed the gap to the tune of five (26:21), before Norway tightened the grip again, increasing their lead to ten goals (31:21). Norway’s bench began celebrating.
The squad of head coach Hergeirsson is the deserved World Champion 2015, for a third time after 1999 and 2011. After the game, Hergeirsson was quoted by saying that the current title feels the best and that “you don’t win a World Championship every day.” The Netherlands played a brilliant competition over the course of the last two weeks and reached their first championship final ever, only losing the very last match. One thing for sure, Nycke Groot & Co. have a bright future ahead of them.
Nora Mørk never got to play the big role, one came to expect of her at the 2015 World Championship – she did not have to. It wasn’t the match for Norway’s star player. Still, she played an important part in the Scandinavian’s victory, attracting lot’s of attention from the Dutch defense, thereby creating space and scoring opportunities for wing- and line-players, who scored 19 of Norway´s 31 goals.
Nycke Groot had a “difficult day at the office”, to put it mildly. Unlike in the case of Nora Mørk, Groot’s co-players could not fill the void, especially in attack. Not until the last ten minutes of the game, when she dished out some of her signature passes, could she make here presence felt. Her performance on the opposite end of the pitch was much stronger, playing effective defense against Norway’s left-back, Veronica Kristiansen.
Bronze Medal Match
Poland vs Romania 22:31 (8:15)
Don´t say that a bronze medal at a World Championship does not matter. Don´t say that it is impossible to find motivation when competing for third place. Don´t say that a bronze medal game is just an unimportant match between losers. Nothing was further away from all of the above in the encounter between Poland and Romania, fighting for the third spot on the podium at this year’s World Championship. Romania’s will to win was perhaps most clearly demonstrated in the second half (coach Ryde’s team was leading by eight goals already) when Melinda Geiger was diving to reach a lose ball, following a save by Poland’s goalkeeper. No doubt, coach Rasmussen’s team wanted the victory too but in the end, the surprise squad of this tournament simply did not have what was necessary to collect the prize. Poland’s players seemed drained – physically and mentally – after two tough weeks in the heartland of handball.
Romania’s super star, left-back, Cristina Neagu, performed another one of her well-known one-woman shows, while Paula Ungureanu put up a magnificent performance in goal. Ten minutes before time, Romania’s head coach, Tomas Ryde, pulled Neagu and Ungureanu off the floor – their work was done, while Romania continued their cruise towards a bronze medal. Who would have expected this achievement following Romania’s unconvincing performances during group play, in Frederikshavn?
The match for fifth place was a remake of the game at the European Championship 2012 in Serbia. Back then, Denmark won 32:30 but this time it was the Russia´s turn. After a 16:12 lead at half-time, Denmark was only able to score five more times in the second period, leaving coach Jorgensen angry and disappointed.
France defeated Montenegro 34:23 (20:13) in the match for the seventh place, earlier in the day.