Handball, handball, and more handball!

Two Norwegian clubs meet in Euro Cup semifinal for the first time


Photo: Annika Byrde
Drammen’s Espen Gommerud Våg in a duel with Nærbø’s Torger Edland in the handball match between Nærbø and Drammen in Drammen, Norway.

Handball, handball, and more handball is happening. The different European tournaments and the Norwegian REMA 1000 league playoffs for the men and women are overlapping. The previous two seasons there weren’t league playoffs because of COVID-19.

For the first time, two Norwegian clubs, Drammen and Nærbø, whose uniform colors are the same, faced each other in a European Cup men’s tournament semifinal, a third-tier tourney behind Champions League and Europa League.

There were two legs with each team getting a home game. The winner with the most aggregate goals advances. Drammen had won 30-27 on its home court, April 23, behind 9 goals from Viktor Petersen Norberg. The score reversed exactly a week later at Nærbø when August Olsen Storbugt scored with one second left in regulation to cut Nærbø’s lead to 30-27, making the aggregate even at 57. This meant one of the championship spots had to be decided on penalty shots. Nærbø prevailed 35-31 for an aggregate 62-61.

Nærbø goalkeeper Vegard Bakken Øien stopped Drammen’s seventh penalty. Tord Asknes Lode converted his penalty, clinching the match and finals spot for Nærbø in its first appearance ever in the European Cup. Including penalty goals, Lode and Ole Nærland each scored seven goals. Sindre Aho led Drammen with six goals. Keeper Halvor Nærland stopped 14 shots.

Nærbø faces Romanian Baia Mare in the final round with the same two-game aggregate format May 21 and May 28. Mare beat Swedish Alingsås in the semifinals.

REMA 1000 men’s handball playoffs

On April 20, four days before the first leg of the European Cup, fifth-seeded Nærbø (13-4-9-30) played fourth-seeded Kolstad (15-2-9-32) and second-seeded Drammen (20-1-5-41) hosted eighth-seeded Halden (11-3-12-25) in best-of-three league quarterfinal. Drammen jumped to a 20-9 halftime lead and crushed Halden 40-24. Gøran Sørheim had 7 goals and 4 assists, Norberg 5-4, Hermann Vildalen 5-3, Aho and Espen Gommerud Våg 5 goals each. Nærbø scored 19 goals in the second half and beat Kolstad 34-26. Tord Haugseng led the way with 8-6, while Ole Nærland and Lode each had 5 goals.

In the other quarterfinals, top-seeded Elverum (25-0-1-50) beat seventh-seeded Bækkelaget (12-1-13-25) 34-25 and sixth-seeded ØIF Arendal Elite (14-2-10-30) downed third-seeded Runar Sandefjord (16-1-9-33) 30-23. Elverum was led by Sindre Heldal with 7 goals, Stig-Tore Moen Nilsen 6-4 assists, and Kasper Thorsen Lien with 6 goals. Peter Dahl Christensen led Bækkelaget with 9-6 assists, Trym Korperud Johnsen had 6-4. Arendal was led by 10 goals and an assist by Olaf Richter Hoffstad, 4-7 from Lars Haubro Jakobsen. Christoffer Rambo had 7-4 for Runar.

In the second quarterfinal April 27, Drammen (Aho 7-7, Ola Hoftun Lillelien 8-0, Norberg 5-4, Vildalen 3-6) scored 19 goals in the second half and beat Halden 32-21; Arendal (Hoffstad 10-1, Sander Løvlie Simonsen 7-0) downed Runar (Rambo 9-5, Sander Rogne Myklebust 8-0) 36-30; Nærbø (Lars Sigve Hamre 8-0, Tord Haugseng 4-8 assists, Rassin Haugseng 0-7 Lode 6-0) jumped to an 18-7 lead and held off Kolstad 29-23, and Elverum (Simen Holand Pettersen 4-8, Orri Freyr Thorkelsson 7-2, Josip Vidovic 2-6, Heldal 7-0) routed Bækkelaget 38-21.

The best-of-five semifinals got underway May 6 with Arendal (Magnus Søndenå 9-2, Mario Matic 5-6, Jakobsen 7-1) beating Drammen (Vildalen 5-5, Aho 3-7, August Baskår Pedersen 7-0) 34-29, a game that was 22-22 before Arendal’s late burst, and Elverum (Eric Oscar Johansson 5-8, Tobias Schjølberg Grøndahl 5-7, Thomas Alfred Solstad 7-1, Endre Langaas 5-0) downing Nærbø (Theodor Svensgård 7-0, Hamre 5-4, Andreas Horst Haugseng 5-4). 32-26.

On May 9, Arendal moved closer to the finals, beating Drammen 33-31. A 12-8 run gave Arendal a 20-15 halftime lead. Drammen drew within one with seven minutes left but could not get over the hump. Fredrik Børm had 8-1, Matic 4-11, Hoffstad 6-0) for Arendal. For Drammen, Aho contributed 9-6, Oskar Olafsson 8-0.

Elverum, whose undefeated regular season ended with a loss to Drammen in the last game, moved within a game of the championship round, beating Nærbø 34-24, May 10, jumping out to a 17-10 halftime lead. Nilsen and Lien had six goals apiece, Vidovic dished out 10 assists. Svensgård and Lode each had four goals for Nærbø.

Game 3 in the Elverum-Nærbø series was scheduled for May 18, in Arendal-Drammen series, May 20.

Elverum bounced from Champions League

Elverum didn’t have enough to topple power Paris St. Germain in Champions League. PSG eliminated Elverum 37-30 in Paris on April 7 in the quarterfinals. On March 30, on its home court, Elverum tied PSG 30-30. In the draw, Solstad had 9 goals, Johansson 7, while PSG received 12 goals from Kamil Syprzak. Nilsen scored 10 goals in the loss while Dainis Kristopans and Syprzak each had seven goals for PSG.

Women: Vipers in multiple final fours

Vipers Kristiansand won their fifth straight REMI 1000 regular season championship. The defending Champions League winners have advanced to the CL semifinals. They have also reached the league semifinals.

On May 1, Kristiansand downed host Crimea Mercator Ljubljana 32-25. They were able to pull away in the second half and Katrine Lunde played well in goal. Ana Debelic led Vipers with 8 goals and Nora Mørk added 5.

On May 7, they clinched their spot in the semifinals with a 33-24 victory over Crimea at home. They got off to a fast start and led 17-12 at intermission. Crimea needed to win the second half by over 12 goals to win the aggregate. In the second half, Crimea drew within 20-17 and 24-21 but Lunde and Evelina Eriksson came up with saves. Ragnhild Valle Dahl led Kristiansand with 6 goals, followed by 5 goals each from Mørk and Jana Knedlikova.

The semifinals and championship are June 4 and 5 in Budapest, Hungary. It will be a Norway festival. Györ (Hungary) includes Norwegians Stine Bredal Oftedal, Veronica Kristiansen, Silje Solberg, and Kari Brattset Dale, but Dale is pregnant. Esbjerg (Denmark) counts Norwegians Marit Malm Frafjord and Marit Røsberg Jacobsen, while Vipers have 15 Norwegians. Metz, the other semifinalist, does not have any Norwegians.

REMI-1000 women’s handball playoffs

The top-seeded Vipers (25-1-0-51) swept seventh-seeded Fredrikstad (12-1-13-25) 34-23, April 27, and 40-29 May 3. In the opener, Marketa Jerabkova had 6-4 assists, Isabelle Gulldèn 5-9, Mørk 3-7, Lysa Tchaptchet Defo 5-1, Sunniva Amalie Næs Andersen 5-0. In the clincher, Mørk had 11-12 assists, Defo 7 goals.

Second-seeded Storhamar (21-0-5-42) also swept into the semifinals defeating the sixth-seeded Romerike Ravens (12-2-12-26) 28-23 on May 1, and 37-24 May 4. In the first game, Emilie Margrethe Hovden led Storhamar with 7 goals, Guro Nestaker chipped in 5-5, Betina Riegelhuth 5 assists. Maja Sofie Muri scored six goals for the Ravens. In the clincher, Hovden scored 10, Nestaker 8 and Kristin Venn 6 for Storhamar, which won the second half 21-8 after a 16-16 tie at intermission. Muri had 8 goals for Romerike.

The other two series went to the three-game limit. Eighth-seeded Byåsen (11-2-13-24) edged fourth-seed Molde (18-1-7-37) 38-36 in extra time April 29 as Julie Bøe Jacobsen and Caroline Aar Jakobsen each had 10 goals, Kjerstin Boge Solås 9-8 assists and Ida Alstad 14 assists. Mona Obaidli had 13-6 assists for Molde.

Molde evened the series 29-24, May 3, behind 11 goals and 2 assists from Thale Rushfeldt Deila, 6-8 from Mona Obaidli and 6 goals by Julie Lygren. Jacobsen had 9 goals for Byåsen. Molde captured the series May 8 with a 25-21 victory behind 8 goals by Elke Josselinne Karsten, 6-6 by Thale Rushfeldt Deila, 5-7 assists from Mona Obaidli. Solås had 8-3, Alstad 7-6 for Byåsen.

Third-seeded Sola (18-2-6-38) opened its series with fifth-seeded Fana (13-4-9-30) by winning 30-26 May 1. Sola was led by Camilla Herrem (7-2) and Live Rushfeldt Deila (2-8), while Celine Solstad (7-3) and Christine Karlsen Alver (7-1) led Fana (Oda Cathrine Lunne Mastad 9-1, Solstad 6-9), which beat Sola (Live Rushfeldt Deila 7-5) 35-30 May 4. Sola (Kristina Sirum Novak 9-2, Herrem 9-1, Live Rushfeldt Deila 4-8) edged Fana (Alver 7-5) 33-32 in extra time May 8 to advance.

The semifinals began May 11 with Storhamar (Hovden 10-1, Riegelhuth 6-4, Anniken Obaidli 5-4, Maja Jakobsen 5-3), beating Sola (Novak 6-5) 37-27, and Kristiansand (Mørk 6-12, Jerabkova 6-8, Andersen 6-0) outscoring Molde (Mona Obaidli 10-1, Thale Rushfeldt Deila 4-7) 36-28. The Storhamar-Sola Game 2 is May 18, Kristiansand-Molde, May 19.

This article originally appeared in the May 27, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of NorCham Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.