Lillestrøm primed to repeat as champs

Toppserien preview


Photo: Ole Kristian Strøm / VG
Lillestrøm’s Guro Reiten (yellow jersey) battles for a ball against Vålerenga, Aug. 18, 2018. Reiten scored 21 goals in 22 games last season for Lillestrøm and is one of 12 players on the squad with current or past Norway national team experience. Lillestrøm won its fifth straight Toppserien title last year.

Michael Kleiner
The Norwegian American

Dynasty teams sustain success because year to year they can afford to reload by adding to the current talent. In Toppserien, Norway’s women’s soccer league, it’s Lillestrøm.

In 2018, they played in rarefied air. They extended a two-year winning streak to 28 games before Klepp edged by them. They cruised to a 20 wins / 1 draw / 1 loss record for 61 points, winning a fifth-straight regular season title by 13 points, along with the Cup win.

They outscored opponents 71-15. Strikers Guro Reiten (21G), Sophie Román Haug (14G), and Ingrid Kvernvolden (10G) outscored all but one other team’s total. What makes that more remarkable is Haug and Kvernvolden were not among the eight players on the team with Norway national team experience. Kvernvolden is now at Røa. Lillestrøm now has 11 players with a total of 376 games played with the national team. Haug was recently added, making it 12 players from one team. Some of the Toppserien teams are stacked with teenagers.

Reiten—who has 39 goals in 43 games the last two years—and Haug will receive help from MFs Emilie Haavi (7G) and Synne Hansen (6G) and newcomers S Meryll Abrahamsen (5G with Avaldsnes), national team players MF-F Therese Sessy Åsland (4G at Røa), D Ina Gausdal (3G with Kolbotn), and S Elise Thorsnes (Utah Royals of the National Women’s Soccer League), who has played 115 national games. National GK Cecilie Hauståker Fiskerstrand returns.

The season began March 23, but it seems likely that it will end the same as the last five for the women in the yellow jerseys.

As for the rest…

Klepp (15-3-4, 48) last season captured the silver and the distinction of ending Lille­strøm’s winning streak. They are led by former Norway national team S Hege Hansen (10G), Australian national team MF Tameka Butt (8G), Ss Elisabeth Terland (6G) and Hanne Kogstad (5G), and American GK Lindsey Harris, who played in all 22 games last season.

If fans of third-place Arna-Bjørnar (11-6-5, 39) want to see last year’s stars, they’ll have to go to the Sandviken (11-6-5, 39) neighborhood of Bergen. MF Maria Broch­mann (15G), S Amalie Eikeland (9G), MF Lisa Naalsund (7G), Ingrid Stenevik, and D Cecilie Kvamme hope the grass is greener on that side of town. That should help make up for the loan of S Ajara Nchout Njoya (15G) to Vålerenga.

A-B, which also lost national-teamer Vilde Bøe Risa (6G) to Kopparbergs/Göteborg in Sweden, brought in MF Andrea Willman (8G) from Stabæk and GK Oda Bogstad, who appeared in 12 games for Lyn.

Kolbotn (11-6-5, 39) returns ex-Norway national team MF Kristin Sævik (9G), new national teamer Marit Bratberg Lund, who scored seven goals from her defensive position, fellow defenders Julie Hoff Klæboe (4G) and Ingrid Elvebakken, MF Anja Helen Rasmussen and new national team GK Aurora Watten Mikalsen, who played in all 22 games in 2018. Added is 12-goal scorer and national team S Isabell Herlovsen, on loan from Vålerenga.

There was excitement a few weeks ago in Oslo when Vålerenga (10-3-10, 33) reached a loan agreement with Sandviken for Njoya. She’ll pair with S Marie Markussen (5G) and provide help for MFs Sherida Spitse (9G), Ingrid Schjelderup (5G), and Victoria Ludvigsen. The back is anchored by Stine Ballisager Pedersen and Ingrid Katrine Buer Søndenå, while goalkeepers Guro Pettersen (12 games) and Tinja-Riikka Korpela (10 games) almost evenly split the net-minding duties last year.

Røa (10-2-10, 32) lost Svava Ros Gudmundsdottir (14G) and Åsland, but back are MFs Ina Helen Levorsen Skaug and Rebecka Holum (5G each), and GK Kirvil Schau Odden. Key additions are Kvernholden and S Synne Jensen (5G at Stabæk), a recent call-up to the national squad.

Stabæk (7-2-13, 23) boasts decorated and national goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth and S Melissa Bjånesøy (9G). They also have a number of teenagers: 15-year old Iris Omarsdottir, 16-year old MF Justine Kielland, and 18-year old MF Cornelia Fladberg.

Avaldsnes (5-6-11, 21) hopes former national team striker Cecilie Pedersen returns to form. She played just seven minutes in 2018 after an 11-goal season in 2017, and 86 goals since 2012. Danish national team GK Line Geltzer Johansen is back, but scoring could be a challenge. Brazilians MF Francielle Manoel Alberto and S Maria Eduarda Francelino da Silva scored three goals last year.

Trondheims-Ørn (4-6-12, 18) has a mix of  “veterans” and youth. Back are Ss leading scorer Julie Skjeflo Adserø (10G), Elen Sagmo Melhus (3G), and Maria Olsvik (2G), GK Kristine Nøstmo, and MF Tina Fremo, all in their 20s. They have to mesh with and guide the new young players: MFs Emilie Bragstad, 17 (2G), Elin Sørum, 19 (2G), and Rakel Engesvik, 20, (1G), Ds Malin Sunde, 18, and Ane Kristine Eggen, 19.

Lyn (3-3-16, 12) welcomes back leading scorer MF Linn Huseby (9G), her twin, D Camilla (2G), MF Mimmi Matilda Löfwenius (4G), S Jenny Kristine Røsholm Olsen (4G), Vilde Hasund (4G), MF Camilla Linberg (2G), Runa Lillegård (2G), MF Joanna Aalstad Bækkelund (1G), and other teenagers. We’ll see how well youth can lead.

Fart moves up to Toppserien from 1st Division.

This article originally appeared in the April 5, 2019, 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;