Seven talking points from the final weekend
The Women’s EHF EURO 2022 came to an end on Sunday, with five exciting games concluding the tournament on the final weekend as the highest places were decided. We saw Norway take their ninth title, Montenegro secure bronze after a fiery extra-time game against France, and Sweden lock in fifth place.
Alongside the team achievements, there were plenty of individual highlights that made the final weekend so spectacular. In my final installment of EHF EURO 2022 talking points, I — EHF EURO newsletter journalist Courtney Gahan — round up my personal highlights of the last three days in Ljubljana.
Comeback win for Norway to clinch trophy
It would have been great to see Denmark return to the top of the EHF EURO podium after so long, but it is also incredible to see Norway do it again and again. They seem to have a very special talent for the EHF EURO in particular, being the absolute dominant force in the competition with now nine trophies from the 15 events since 1994.
The last two titles Norway have won have required them to fight back from behind. At the 2021 World Championship, they turned the game on its head in the opening minutes of the second half. On Sunday, it took longer, as they moved in front for the first time only in the last 10 minutes — but they really rose to the occasion in crunch time.
Katrine Lunde is truly a huge weapon for Norway, and I mentioned in my half-time thoughts on the live blog to watch out for exactly what happened, as I saw it more than once at both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the World Championship one year ago. Norway have developed a trend of bringing Lunde in for the last parts of games when a comeback is required, and on Sunday, she kept Denmark from scoring for almost 10 minutes as her team fought back to level the game. Keeping her fresh to come in and replace already strong Silje Solberg seems to be a very successful tactic.
Joka’s perfect farewell
She was on court when Montenegro took the EHF EURO title in 2012, scoring five goals in the extra-time final against Norway — and on Sunday night, Jovanka Radicevic was once again part of a Montenegrin medal win. As the team took their tally to three overall in major championships — two at the EURO and one at the Olympic Games — so did the icon of the national team.
She was not named MVP and she did not raise the trophy, but this EHF EURO will stay in many of our memories as ‘Joka’s EURO’ — certainly in mine. What memorable performances we saw from the right wing; what moments she gave us as she wore her heart on her sleeve as always; and what an emotional ride we went on with her, through all the highs and the few lows.
Mørk’s sixth top scorer crown
Norway back Nora Mørk secured her third EHF EURO top scorer award and sixth overall across all events. She was top scorer of the EURO in 2016 and 2020, as well as at the last two Olympic Games and at the 2017 World Championship.
28 of Mørk’s goals at the EHF EURO 2022 came from penalties, as she missed only one from the seven-metre line.
This 2022 award means Mørk has taken the crown in every EURO she’s played since 2016, as she missed the 2018 edition due to injury. Across either men’s or women’s tournaments, she is the first player to take this award twice in a row and the first to earn it three times.
It’s very special to see a female player make this history. What a force she is!
Remarkable Reistad and repeat All-star Team members
Still only 23 but Henny Reistad has already had so much success. The MVP of the EHF EURO 2022 has won medals at every major championship, taken the EHF Champions League title, been named MVP of the EHF FINAL4, and been part of the All-star Teams at the World Championship and Champions League.
Reistad is a true all-rounder, playing an important role in defence as well as attack, where she scores goals and sets up her teammates with assists. She is also such a clutch player — it was she who netted the decisive goals in the last minutes of the final.
It’s impressive to see several names make their way back into the All-star Team at the EHF EURO, such as Stine Oftedal returning for the third straight time as centre back. But I’m more impressed by those players whose All-star Team nominations spanned at least a decade: Jovanka Radicevic and Cristina Neagu. While Radicevic was first named in the EHF EURO All-star Team in 2012, Neagu’s first nod was back in 2010. Such a feat shows incredible consistency and top-level performance throughout these players’ careers.
Thrills and heartbreak in semi-finals
Montenegro brought their incredible fans, Denmark ended a very long wait for the trophy match and Norway stunned us all with their play in the semi-finals. France were clearly disappointed with their own performance, as they entered the final weekend with high hopes and eventually left empty-handed.
A personal highlight for me has always been the support Montenegro receive as a women’s national team — mainly from big groups of men who sing and jump throughout their matches and really help energise the team. Seeing men so passionate about women’s sport was something that I found touching at my very first Women’s EHF EURO, in 2014, when Montenegro took the bronze medal, and it was great to witness again on the final weekend in Ljubljana.
Roberts’ milestones and Sweden on the rise
As Sweden secured fifth place at the EHF EURO 2022, left back Jamina Roberts reached not only one but two personal milestones. The game was Roberts’ 48th at the EHF EURO for Sweden, placing her first on her national teams’ list of all-time caps at the EURO. With the 48th game, Roberts replaced Isabelle Gulldén as the record holder.
Roberts had a perfect match to celebrate the milestone, reaching 100 career goals at the EHF EURO. It is great to see Roberts in such top shape, as she has been now for a couple of years. She was unlucky to miss out on the All-star Team but the left back position had some tough competition.
It was the second consecutive fifth place at a major championship for Sweden, as they secured the same ranking at the 2021 World Championship. Just a few months before that, they reached the Olympic semi-finals for the first time.
Sweden have been clearly on the rise since Tomas Axner took over as head coach and I am sure it is not long before we see them back on the podium at a major event.
All-time top scorer list gets a rework
The all-time top scorer list at the Women’s EHF EURO certainly had a reshuffle at the event in Slovenia, North Macedonia and Montenegro. To start with, Neagu rocketed further away in first position, becoming the first person to score 300 goals at the EHF EURO.
Below her, Mørk and Radicevic both passed the 200-goal mark and kept climbing, moving into second and third, respectively, on the all-time top scorer ranking.
It will be a long time until we see such historic moments at the Women’s EHF EURO, as the still active players who are eyeing the 200-goal mark are more than 50 goals away, so the 2022 edition was a special goal fest indeed. What a pleasure to witness these history makers in action, and we can look forward to at least Mørk continuing to chase Neagu’s milestones, as Radicevic is retiring but the Norwegian sharpshooter is not going anywhere yet.