The Borussia Dortmund women's handballers ran out 31-25 (16-14) winners against second-placed HSG Blomberg-Lippe thanks to an improved performance in the second half of what was initially an even game. In the end, it was a commanding and deserved win.
The scenario: With two wins apiece, both Blomberg-Lippe (with a +5 superior goal difference) and BVB went into the game second and third respectively behind champions Bietigheim, who had already played three games.
Personnel matters: Left-winger Lena Hausherr, who had missed out in Bad Wildungen, declared herself fit again on Friday. That meant coach Henk Groener had a full squad at his disposal with the exception of Dana Bleckmann, who underwent cruciate ligament surgery.
The match & analysis: It was clear from the first moment that this NRW derby would be a test of where both teams are at. The first minutes were hectic, with a high number of mistakes by both sides. The Borussia ladies were 4-1 down after seven minutes. But the picture changed within the shortest period of time. When Steffen Birkner called the first time-out in the 12th minute, BVB led 6-4 having scored five goals in a row. BVB goalkeeper Tess Lieder had played a part in that too.
The performance of Harma van Kreij was also very important in this situation. She found the net herself twice and teed up a goal for pivot Lisa Antl, who scored to make it 9-8 (22). The Dortmund defence did a fine job and consistently stopped Blomberg's attacks on the nine-metre line. However, BVB's attacking play continued to be error-strewn and had many shortcomings. The consequence: HSG were 11-9 ahead with seven minutes to go until the break.
Henk Groener reacted by calling a time-out and demanded his players show more pace on the retreat, shift the play to the flanks and play more long passes. Meret Ossenkopp got the important equaliser to make it 11-11 with a courageous throw over the head of HSG goalkeeper Melanie Veith from a tough angle (27).
Hausherr from the left flank and captain Alicia Stolle, who threw the ball into the empty net 50 seconds before the half-time whistle, made it 14-12 at the interval.
BVB continued where they had left off before the break in the second period. With tempo and a high level of concentration. Campos, Stolle and Antl scored in the space of five minutes to make the score 17-14. Hausherr proved herself to be a prolific seven-metre thrower when she made it 20-17 a short while later. At the other end, BVB goalkeeper Tess Lieder saved her second seven-metre throw to deny Marie Michalczik, while Hausherr made it 21-17 and 22-17 via seven-metre throws and Borussia took a five-goal lead for the first time in the game.
At the latest, the third goal from the strong Haruno Sasaki of Japan to make the score 26-20 (52) all-but decided the outcome. When Sasaki made it 27-20 a short while later, the game was over as a contest. Blomberg were dismayed and let their heads drop. BVB had done everything right, with the substitutions from the bench continuing to keep the tempo high, while Blomberg grew tired. In addition, the BVB defence continued to hold firm, the outstanding Tess Lieder thwarted the HSG attack and Haruno Sasaki was the super sub for BVB coach Henk Groener after her introduction. The Japan international was the difference between the two teams in the second period.
Finally, captain Alicia Stolle rounded off the victory when she scored a dream goal following an assist from Haruno Sasaki to make it 31-25 seconds before the final whistle.
Coach Henk Groener: "The atmosphere in the hall was super. The fans saw two teams who gave each other nothing. It did not initially look like we would be able to win by six goals by the end. We struggled at the beginning. There was more strength on our bench, we were able to keep up the level. Thanks to Harma van Kreij, Carmen Campos and Haruno Sasaki, we could play with tempo for 60 minutes. Both teams gave everything. One can only be satisfied with the start to the season and the 6-0 points tally."
Outlook: The Bundesliga is now set to pause for the next two weeks. Instead, there will be DHB-Pokal action. BVB will welcome NRW rivals Bayer Leverkusen to Halle Wellinghofen in the round of 16 at 19:00 CET on Saturday 30 September.
Handball-Damen: Lieder, Wachter; Sprengers, Kusian (2), Antl (2), Degenhardt, van Kreij (2), Stolle (6), Ossenkopp (4), Sasaki (4), Olsson (2), Rønning (1), Campos (2), Hausherr (4/3).