Dukoska inspires North Macedonia to title in Lithuania
An 11-goal performance from Teodora Dukoska inspired North Macedonia to a 27:26 victory against Iceland in the Women's 17 EHF Championship final in Lithuania.
The bronze medal match featured group winners Spain and Poland. After Spain came back from a four-goal deficit in the second half to snatch a 22:22 draw in normal time, they also won the subsequent penalty shootout.
- in a match-winning performance Teodora Dukoska scored 11 goals from 14 shots for North Macedonia
- three players scored four times for Iceland: Elin Klara Gustsdottir, Elisa Eliasdottir, Lilja Thorkelsdottir
- North Macedonia's only defeat in the championship was against Spain in the preliminary round
In North Macedonia's semi-final victory against Poland, one player stood out on the court: Iva Mladenovska. Mladenovska opened her account against Iceland in the 13th minute, but as a tight first half developed in Lithuania, other players stepped up in attack for North Macedonia.
In what was perhaps a sign of things to come, Teodora Dukoska scored three consecutive goals for North Macedonia from the 23rd minute to the 26th minute. Although North Macedonia generally held a one-goal lead as half-time approached, Iceland were not overwhelmed and equalised through Embla Steindorsdottir 30 seconds before half-time.
With two strikes from Elin Klara Gustsdottir and a goal from Elisa Eliasdottir, Iceland moved two goals clear, 15:13, early in the second half. But with Dukoska continuing to add to her total, North Macedonia reclaimed the lead in the 51st minute.
While Dukoska deserves credit for her inspirational performance, four goals in the last 10 minutes from Emilijana Rizoska lifted North Macedonia across the finish line.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH
Spain vs Poland 26:24 (22:22) (11:15)
- after the match finished as a draw in normal time, Spain won the penalty shootout 4:2 to clinch third place
- Poland had a four-goal lead after 45 minutes but a long goalless period hampered their hopes of winning a medal
- Poland goalkeeper Lidia Piotrowska made 15 saves from 37 shots faced; Eider Poles and Ester Somaza both scored five goals for Spain
For 15 minutes of the bronze medal match in Lithuania, no more than two goals separated Spain and Poland. Emelie Wieckowska, who scored five times in the semi-final against North Macedonia, converted a fast break opportunity that gave Poland the first three-goal lead of the game, 9:6.
Wieckowska’s fourth goal increased Poland’s advantage to four goals, 11:7, and despite Eider Poles scoring three times for Spain, Poland still had a four-goal lead after 30 minutes.
However, as Spain fought hard to draw level in the second half, Poland failed to score for more than 10 minutes. In a match-changing spell, Lyndie Tchapchet and Ester Somaza both scored twice during a 5:0 run that put Spain one goal in front inside the final five minutes.
While Kamila Grzesista equalised for Poland with just over 30 seconds remaining and Arroyo Pimienta's direct free throw was saved, Spain only missed one penalty in the resulting shootout (4:2) as they claimed third place in Lithuania.
Placement matches 5-8
Belarus vs Lithuania 26:18 (11:7)
Finland vs Turkey 20:25 (9:12)
1st North Macedonia
Goalkeeper: Marija Jovanovska (MKD)
Left wing: Emilia Wieckowska (POL)
Left back: Carmen Arroyo Pimienta (ESP)
Centre back: Joanna Granicka (ESP)
Line player: Elisa Eliasdottir (ISL)
Right back: Tinna Sigurros Traustadottir (ISL)
Right wing: Teodora Dukoska (MKD)
Top scorer: Ulyana Petrachkova (BLR) - 42 goals
Defender: Lilja Agustsdottir (ISL)
MVP: Iva Mladenovska (MKD)