16 May. 2022
SG BBM Bietigheim won their maiden international trophy, after sweeping their opponents in the Energi Viborg EHF Finals last weekend, as the German side became only the second team in history after Chimistul Ramnicu Valcea to clinch the second-tier European competition by winning all the games they played.
The four winners of the quarter-finals of the EHF European League Women qualified for the Energi Viborg EHF Finals, with two Danish teams, hosts Viborg HK and Herning-Ikast Håndbold, German side SG BBM Bietigheim and Romanian team CS Minaur Baia Mare fighting for the trophy.
The draw carried out in Vienna a month before the throw off of the Energi Viborg EHF Finals saw hosts Viborg HK take on Minaur Baia Mare, while a crunch semi-final between Herning-Ikast and Bietigheim was going to send the winner to the final.
A strong start, which saw them deploy a 9:2 lead, helped Viborg HK qualify for their fourth final in the second-tier European competition, despite Baia Mare mounting an impressive comeback in the second half, which saw the gap cut to a single goal, 17:16. Eventually, Viborg powered through, took advantage of Baia Mare’s mistakes and clinched a 28:24 win.
The other semi-final was even more dramatic in its script. Bietigheim took early control of the game, as their defence suffocated Herning-Ikast, the team boasting the best attack in the competition. After a 14:12 lead for the German side at the break, Bietigheim was cruising with 15 minutes to go, establishing a superb seven-goal lead, 27:20.
However, Herning-Ikast never let go of their chances. Coach Kasper Christiansen deployed a seven-on-six attack, which proved extremely successful, tying the game with two minutes to go. As the final time-out was taken by Bietigheim’s coach, Markus Gaugisch, the score was still tied, but with two seconds to go, experienced Polish back Karolina Kudlacz-Gloc scored the decisive goal to put Bietigheim in the final, after a 34:33 win.
Picking up the pieces, Herning-Ikast had to settle for the third-place game against Baia Mare, where they were favourites to win their first EHF Finals Women match after conceding two losses in the last season.
However, Baia Mare put up a superb fight and took the Danish side to the length, as the regular time ended in a 24:24 deadlock. A penalty shoot-out ensued and the only player who blinked was Baia Mare’s Ukrainian line player Yaroslava Burlachenko, who missed, as Herning-Ikast secured bronze with a 29:28 win, after penalties.
The big final had two strong teams vying for the trophy, but, in fact, the story was written as soon as Bietigheim embarked on a 6:0 run between minutes 12 and 18 to take a 10:5 lead.
Despite loud cheers from their fans, Viborg HK had little to no chance to attempt a comeback and it got even worse in the second half, when another 5:0 run from Bietigheim sealed the deal.
The 31:20 scoreline in the final, one of the most lopsided games in the history of the last acts in the second-tier European competition, might be painful for the hosts, but it truly underlined the gap between the two sides.
Bietigheim, who are now on a 50-game winning streak in all competitions, dating back from March 2021, when they lost against domestic rivals BV Borussia 09 Dortmund in the German Bundesliga, were the top team throughout the season, dominating their opponents in the EHF European League Women by a margin of 8.2 goals per game.
With 12 wins in 12 matches, including the Qualification Phase 3, where they started the season, the German side set a new record for a winning streak in the competition, while also becoming the second side to clinch the trophy by winning all the games they played, after Romanian team Chimistul Ramnicu Valcea in the 1985/86 season, when they won six times.
“It was a hard job, but I am very happy and I am so proud of the girls. They did well; stayed focused throughout the game. We played with a lot of heart, a lot of speed and we found good solutions in attack. It was a perfect day for us,” said Bietigheim’s coach, Markus Gaugisch, after the final against Viborg.
Bietigheim’s German left back, Xenia Smits, who scored five goals in the final against Viborg, was named the MVP of the Energi Viborg EHF Finals, while the top scorer of the EHF European League Women was Viborg’s centre back Kristine Jørgensen, who scored 72 goals.
For more information on the Energi Viborg EHF Finals and the EHF European League Women, visit eurohandball.com.
Photos: EHF / kolektiff / Axel Heimken