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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Great Dane Women Record First European Victory

GREAT Dane Women beat Greek side AS Aris Thessalonikis 31-20 in the European Challenge Cup last weekend to become the first British women's team to record a European victory in over 20 years.

The London club were playing in the competition for the first time after qualifying as English League champions, and travelled with a squad of 17 to Leiria in Portugal for their two matches in the second round of the tournament.

“It was a fantastic and memorable experience for everyone,” said player Anne Kandler. “The final whistle was lost in jubilation and we won the title for the most passionate celebration for sure.”

Hosts Juvelis provided their first opposition, watched by more than 300 spectators.

Great Dane started nervously, and every technical mistake was immediately punished. But the Danes fought themselves back into the game and kept a 4-5 goal difference for most of the first half.

“The Portuguese team proved to be a physically strong opponent and their aggressive and clever 5:1 defence caused some problems,” added Kandler.

The second half followed a very similar pattern – a passionately fighting Great Dane team playing some good handball, forced the Portuguese to show their best until the end when they were 32-19 winners.

“We learnt our lesson that we can keep up with the other teams, now we only need to reduce our own technical mistakes,” added Kandler.

After some intense sessions with osteopath for all the Great Dane players, they took on Thessalonikis in their final match, and looked a different team from their opening game with variable and aggressive defence.

“The first half was relatively equal and the team played probably their best handball: beautiful goals from the wings, powerful shots from the back, impressive goalkeeping and fast breaks lead to a half time score of 16-13,” explained Kandler.

“And the second half proved that youth cannot replace experience - the oldest player of the Greek team was younger than the youngest player of our team!” she added.

Great Dane extended their lead gradually to a comfortable 31-20 victory, while in the final game of the tournament, Juvelis beat Thessalonikis 36-25.

Kandler scored 12 goals in their two games, while Iris Manu scored 11, including ten in their victory over Thessalonikis.

“It was a great experience,” added Kandler. “And the team would like to thank our coach Paulo Silva for inspiring us to a great result, Karin Modig for doing a great job in organising our Challenge Cup adventure, and our osteopath Alexia Lescure for ensuring that everyone survived it.”

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