An exciting game awaited our team at the start of the season in Denmark. We dominated from the beginning, however Team Esbjerg equalized at halftime from a three-goal deficit. In the last part of the second half it was our squad who won the war of nerves and came out victorious, 31-29, earning valuable points in the away game.
Full house awaited Győri Audi ETO KC in the season opener of the Champions League in Blue Water Dokken, Esbjerg. This was a rematch between the two teams from last year’s FINAL4 semi-final, but now they met in the first round of the new season. Ambros Martín placed his confidence on the line-up of Kristiansen, Nze Minko, Faluvégi, Broch, Schatzl, Ryu, and Solberg in the goal, who immediately started with a save. The first goal came in the 4th minute due to Stine Oftedal, who scored when we were one player down. In the first ten minutes both sides were scoring in turns, but we always had the lead, also Kristiansen scored our first penalty (4-5). Team Esbjerg had too many players on the court during Reistad’s suspension, which meant we were two players up, quickly putting Faluvégi into scoring position. Nze Minko responded to Breistöl’s goal with one into the empty net. After 15 minutes of play we were only leading by a small margin (7-8). Following two Győr goals, the home team called their first time-out in the 17th minute. Solberg saved effectively in the goal which was necessary to keep the advantage. After five minutes of silence in the goal, the home team scored through Heindahl, but Kristiansen was quick to respond. Then the substitutions came: Lukács, Blohm and Gros took the court. Soon, after Ana Gros’s suspension, Team Esjberg came up to one goal and then equalised in the 25th minute (11-11). Excitement remained in the closing minutes of the first half, the teams were tied at 13-13 for the break.
The second half started with a penalty for the home team, Toft arrived between the posts and rejected the goal. Esjberg took the advantage through Breistöl, but Gros levelled quickly. The match started to change in such a way that we were trailing Esjberg. Fodor got into the game in good form, Oftedal equalised in the 39th minute (18-18), then we were leading again thanks to Gros (19-20). Goals were dropping on both sides, 15 minutes before the end, the home team led 24-23. It was characteristic of the match that one minute later we had the advantage after the goals of Blohm and Nze Minko. Following the second home team time-out, both goalkeepers put on a show, Toft saved Reistad’s penalty. Turning onto the final minutes we led 27-26, first Mörk tied the score, then Gros was awarded a penalty shot, which she put into the net. Nze Minko received a suspension four minutes before the final whistle, Mörk scored from the penalty line (28-28). One player down, Kristiansen took back the lead, moreover we could attack for a two-goal advantage in the last two minutes of the game, so Ambros Martín called time-out. However, the game was tied again, Mörk scored her thirteenth goal. Oftedal scored number 30 for us, while Kamp missed her chance in the counter attack. Gros was successful from a free throw, there were no further goals, so we began the Champion’s League season with a 31-29 away win.
Ambros Martín: It was an exciting match, neither team could break away from the other. Both teams could have won today, but we were better in the endgame, therefore earning two valuable points in the home of a strong opponent.