The Borussia Dortmund women's handball team have missed out on their big opportunity to reach the DHB-Pokal Final4 for the first time since 2016. Having held a clear lead, the Black & Yellows gave the game away in the second half as they slipped to a 34-33 (17-21) defeat away to HSG Bensheim/Auerbach.
The scenario: BVB had qualified for the quarter-finals thanks to a 32-26 victory away to HSG Blomberg-Lippe, while HSG Bensheim/Auerbach had beaten second tier leaders ESV 1927 Regensburg 34-18. BVB clearly won the Bundesliga meeting between the teams at the end of September by a 28-22 scoreline.
The match & analysis: BVB had of course been warned prior to throw-off. Henk Groener had issued a few words to his players, in particular highlighting the danger posed by Lisa Friedberger in the middle of the backcourt. And of course with regard to the various defensive formations coach Heike Ahlgrimm consistently deploys to surprise opponents. That was the case again too. Captain Alina Grijseels was covered from the first second. Not a problem for BVB. Barely five minutes were up and BVB led 5-1 thanks to goals from Sara Garovic, Grijseels, Zoe Sprengers plus a Meret Ossenkopp brace.
The fact the "Flames", whose side included former BVB player Amelie Berger, subsequently reduced the lead was attributable to BVB being a player down relatively frequently. And yet the Borussia ladies always found a solution, despite their numerical inferiority. Pivot Emma Olsson made it 13-9 following a great ball from Sprengers (16), before right-winger Ossenkopp upped the score to 16-11 after a great save from goalie Yara ten Holte (20).
But Bensheim were by no means beaten at this point. Five minutes before the break, Myrthe Schoenaker cut the deficit to 18-16 with a seven-metre throw. On the stroke of half-time, a great free throw from Dana Bleckmann made it 21-17.
It stayed exciting in the second period. When Dionne Visser cut the gap to 27-26 in the 43rd minute, Henk Groener was forced to call a time-out. Things simply were not working for BVB anymore, but it was all going swimmingly for Bensheim. Lotta Heider levelled the scores for the first time in the game via a seven-metre throw that made it 27-27 (46). The final 10 minutes could hardly have been more combative and hectic.
With six minutes remaining, captain Grijseels got the important goal for 31-30 but then the completely unmarked Ossenkopp was denied by goalie van Beurden seconds later. With a minute to go, Bensheim took the lead for the first time in the game at 33-32. Grijseels levelled from seven metres (59), only for Lotta Heider to make it 34-33 immediately.
Groener called a third time-out with exactly 28 seconds to go. But when Lisa Antl threw over the goal from the edge of the circle with four seconds left, the game was up. And BVB's cup dream was over.
Henk Groener: "It is of course bitter for us, we led for almost the entirety of the game but ended up one goal behind. The main reason for the defeat is clear. We scored 21 goals in the first half but only 12 after the break. Bensheim never gave up. Towards the end, we lost our heads and let ourselves get caught up in the chaos."
Rupert Thiele: "We fought strongly but Bensheim performed perfectly in the second half."
BVB women's handball team: Moth, ten Holte, Kohorst; Grijseels (8/3), Sprengers (2), Kusian, Ossenkopp (6), Olsson (1), Rønning (1), Bleckmann (5), Garovic (4), Antl (3), Sasaki (2), Hausherr (1).
Outlook: After a break of almost three weeks, the Bundesliga campaign is about to resume. BVB will be away to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday 1 February. Throw-off is at 19:30 CET. That will be followed by the European home game against ES Besançon Feminin only four days later. Throw-off at the Westpress Arena in Hamm is at 14:00 CET on 5 February.