The Borussia Dortmund women's handball team have won their first game since returning from more than four weeks in quarantine. The Black & Yellows beat Thüringer HC 38-29 (18-14) at Halle Wellinghofen on Wednesday evening to move within two points of their first-ever German title.
Following a minute's silence for Andreas Bartels, who passed away in April, the game started with a powerful throw from Inger Smits who fired BVB into a 1-0 lead. The Black & Yellows took a two-goal lead for the first time five minutes later – thanks to another excellent play from Smits (4-2) – and then found themselves a woman up after a two-minute penalty was imposed upon THC.
Despite having a small squad and losing a player in the early stages, Thüringen played a high-tempo game, prevented the BVB ladies from pulling away and even levelled at 5-5 in the 12th minute. Even once the Black & Yellows had upped the tempo even further, the visitors held their own and remained unperturbed. The referee subsequently whistled for an attacking foul by BVB, and coach Herbert Müller's team restored parity once again (9-9, 18).
As has so often been the case this season, it was once again Inger Smits who upped the tempo and helped Borussia take a three-goal lead by the 19th minute (12-9). Merel Freriks had a chance to make it 17-12 in the 25th minute but failed to beat the THC goalkeeper. However, Kelly Vollebregt went one better a few moments later and scored another goal after Rinka Duijndam had made a save at the other end, prompting Herbert Müller to call time-out.
With the Black & Yellows reduced to only four outfield players a short while later, THC mounted an offensive and reduced the deficit to 17-14. By the time the half-time whistle sounded, Borussia had upped their lead to 18-14.
After the break, André Fuhr sent on Clara Monti Danielsson in a bid to stabilise the defence. Further forward, Merel Freriks turned on the style and by the time the 40th minute rolled around, the Black & Yellows were 24-18 ahead. Rinka Duijndam, who had already produced a good first-half performance, saved a throw from wide out left with the score at 26-21. Tessa van Zijl went down the other end and made it 27-21 (42).
Given their deficit, Thüringen repeatedly switched to seven outfield players in the closing stages. The Black & Yellows took full advantage and scored several goals into an empty net. After conceding a goal, BVB made it 31-23 through Clara Monti Danielsson in the 50th minute. That lead grew as the game progressed and even Rinka Duijndam got herself on the scoresheet with a long throw.
André Fuhr rang the changes and – the wide players aside – every Black & Yellow was given a breather. This game came too soon for left-winger Jennifer Gutiérrez Bermejo and right winger Tina Abdulla, who had been suffering with corona infections. But even without the duo, Borussia still won 38-29.
THC coach Herbert Müller labelled it a "deserved victory" for Borussia, a sentiment shared by André Fuhr. "First things first, I'm happy with the win and the two points. We were not initially aggressive enough, but we then came through with our quality." BVB, who are still unbeaten with a points tally of 52-0, now need only one more victory to claim the championship. "We now have four match-points awaiting us," said Fuhr, "but I don't think we'll need all of them".
BVB women's handball team: Duijndam (1), Roch, ten Holte; Grijseels (2/1), van der Heijden (5), van Zijl (1), Smits (11/2), Stockschläder (4), Freriks (5), Dulfer, Rode, Bleckmann (1), Vollebregt (6), Danielsson (2)