Playing in the finale of the international Heide Cup in Schnerverdingen, Germany, MT Melsungen was unable to overcome their opponents from central Hesse, HSG Wetzlar. The final score was 17-24 (8-14). While the HSG was able to lean on its sturdy defence and on Benjamic Buric, who earned honours as the tournament's top keeper, the MT was unable to compensate for the injured Momir Rnic and Michael Müller. Top scorer in the finale was Maximilian Holst (8 goals) for the HSG and Philipp Müller (4) for the MT.
With Michael Müller (knee injury) and Momir Rnic, excused for the birth of his son Ognjen, out of the lineup, MT Melsungen took the court for the final match with Philipp Müller, Nenad Vuckovic and Gabor Langhans in the backcourt. The HSG, itself without injured Joao Ferraz, once again deployed Vladan Lipovina in its starting seven. The team under coach Wandschneider started out strong and seized an early lead — the goal for 5-2 (9th minute) came courtesy of Maximilian Holst, whose 27 goals ultimately earned him the title of best goalscorer in the tournament. Two sharp saves from Benjamin Buric helped build the lead as well.
The lack of Müller and Rnic was particularly evident when MT Melsungen had possession. They lacked the power to penetrate the Wetzlar defence on the way to the goal. "Once again we put up a strong defence with a very good keeper in the back", said centre blocker Stefan Kneer joyfully after the final whistle. Wetzlar moved the ball around effectively when they were in possession, creating a number of chances. This dynamic produced leads for the HSG of 6-4 (13th) and 9-6 (22nd), ending in 14-8 at the half.
The 2nd half started off for MT Melsungen with two immediate suspensions, and Wetzlar extended its lead accordingly. Kristian Björnsen struck on 36 minutes for 16-8, and Holst slotted home his eight score for 17-8. It was nine minutes into the second half before Melsungen finally hit pay dirt, with Gabor Langhans making it 17-9 (39th).
The MT refused to go down without a fight, and took advantage of a man-advantage situation (suspensions against Evars Klesniks and Filip Mirkulovski) to cut the lead. Jeffrey Boomhouwer scored a brace of goals for the MT to bring it to 17-11 (40th). In the minutes that followed, however, the side from North Hesse too often rushed their offence and was unable to convert. By the time Michael Roth called for time-out on 49 minutes, his team had slipped behind 12-20 thanks to a goal by Lipovina.
Melsungen was unable to trim the deficit significantly in the few remaining minutes, and the final scoreboard read 24-17. Kneer downplayed the significance of the win. "Melsungen was missing a lot of players", the newcomer noted. "You can never tell how hard the other team had been practising. They may well be glad for that work by the time the end of the season rolls around. With that said, I thought we played well on our own terms".
(Report: handball-world.com / Photo: MT-Trommler)
Both Bundesliga sides now have two weeks to prepare for the first mandatory match in the DHB Cup. MT Melsungen will play at SG Leutershausen in the first round (27 August), while HSG Wetzlar will go up against local rival TV 05/07 Hüttenberg. The Handball Bundesliga throws off a week later. The HSG starts its season at home against Füchse Berlin (2 September, 7:45 pm), while Melsungen will play host to HSC 2000 Coburg (4 September, 5:15 pm). Before then, the MT has also committed to playing in the Klaus MIesner Memorial Tournament (19-21 August 2016, Ilsenburg, Germany).
Statistics from the finale
HSG Wetzlar: N. Weber, Buric; Kneer, Lipovina (4), Björnsen (2), Pöter (1), Mirkulovski, P. Weber (4), Holst (8/4), Kraft (1), Hahn, Klesniks, Lindskog (1), Kohlbacher (3).
MT Melsungen: Verkic, Paske, Viladsen; Sellin (2), Golla (2), Fahlgren (1), Danner, P. Müller (4), Boomhouver (2), Allendorf (3/2), Vuckovic, Haenen, Langhans (1), Grolla (2).
A weekend jaunt to the Harz Mountains!
The MT has scheduled one last tune-up for the season, starting this Friday. Coach Roth's team will travel to Ilsenburg in the scenic Harz Mountains for the international Klaus Miesner Memorial Tournament. The opening match in the quest for the Harz-Energie Cup is Gorenje Velenje, a top Slovenian club (Fr. 19/8, 5 pm, Harzland-Halle, Ilsenburg). Other notable entrants include Ystads (SWE), Leipzig Gummersbach and Magdeburg. Click here to see the tournament seedings.