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Date: 7/15/2016
 

The 2016 IHF Women’s Junior (U20) World Championship bronze medal was won by Romania after they defeated Germany by one goal. Romania led by seven at half-time and came close to an upsetting end to their strong game, with Germany very near equalising in the final 30 seconds. But in the end Romania celebrated their second bronze medal at an IHF World Championship in eight months, after the senior side claimed third place in the 22nd IHF Women’s Handball World Championship in December.  

“It was so close but always so far for Romania,” said Romania’s top scorer at Russia 2016, Cristina Laslo (62 goals). “It’s the second final we’ve won against Germany. It’s the Romania team – it’s magic!”

Bronze medal match: Germany vs Romania 25:26 (10:17)

The match opened one for one with the first goal coming from Germany line player Annika Ingenpass. Romania played strong 6-0 while Germany focused their defence on Laslo, with a 5-0 plus one system marking out the team’s top scorer – who would nevertheless find the goal 12 times in the match. 

Laslo made it look easy to defeat the defence when she ran around Ingenpass to play the ball into line player Lorena Ostase and take her side 3:2 in front in the fifth minute. With Alicia Stolle out on a two-minute suspension Romania moved ahead to a 7:4 lead after 10 minutes, before Germany came chasing. Romania coach Ion Craciun substituted out goalkeeper Yuliya Dumanska to bring in Madalina Ion, and with Germany’s Kathrin Pichlmeier out for two minutes Romania maintained an advantage at 10:6 as the clock showed 15 minutes. 

Moments later Ostase was badly hurt to the shoulder and had to leave the court, before Laslo suffered a minor injury in the next attack. Germany lost two players on suspensions as those injuries occurred, with Stolle being sent to the bench for a second time after Lisa Wieder. 

By the time Germany returned to full strength Romania were five in front at 12:7, and Ion stopped two shots in row to keep the score there as the clock showed 18 minutes. Ruthenbeck scored her second in the 22nd to close the gap to 8:12, as Romania were unable to score for six minutes until Alina Ilie hit the back of the net to increase her side’s advantage to five (13:8). 

Ion made another great save on a breakthrough to keep the score where it was with five minutes left in the half, and as the clock wound toward the break Romania tightened their grip on the game. They allowed Germany only two goals in the final five minutes of the half while adding four more themselves to hold a comfortable advantage at half-time. 

The second 30 minutes opened badly for Germany, with Stolle receiving her third two-minute suspension and with it a red card in the first minute. Five minutes in Romania had pulled ahead to 19:11, and when Germany had managed to decrease the deficit by only one goal to 13:20 in the 40th, it seemed Romania were comfortably on their way to a victory. 

But Germany turned the game around and with just over eight minutes remaining, had decreased the gap to 22:25. Romania’s last goal of the game came in the 53rd minute courtesy of Laslo, while Germany steadily closed the score line. Right after the 55-minute mark Germany goalkeeper Madita Kohorst made an impressive penalty save off Laslo, keeping her side within three at 23:26. 

With three minutes remaining Germany were hot on Romania’s tail, closing the gap to two at 24:26 with a goal from Alina Grijseels. Germany added one more goal as the clock ticked down, and with 30 seconds left they stopped Romania’s final attack and held possession with plenty of time to equalise. 

They could not level the score however, and when Nele Reimer missed a free throw from nine called right on the buzzer, Romania celebrated their nation’s second IHF Women’s World Championship bronze medal in eight months. 

About the success of both women’s national teams, not to mention the EHF Women’s Champions League 2015/16 triumph for CSM Bucuresti, Laslo said: “It’s magic. Romania’s spirit, and Romania love handball! This is it. We made history today.”

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