Sandviken women on their way to first Toppserien title

Photo: Ole Martin Wold/NTB Sandviken’s Marit Bratberg Lund (in red) tries to maneuver past Rosenborg’s Elin Sørum during July 17 game.

JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
Oslo

Record: 14 games, 13 wins, one draw, and zero losses. It has been a magnificent season for the best female soccer team in Bergen, Sandviken. In Round 14 on Sept. 25, they beat Kolbotn 3-1, winning their ninth consecutive game, and with only four games left to play, they are headed to not only being the best team in Bergen but the best in Toppserien. It will be its first title.

Lisa Naaslund scored the first goal of the game with a beautiful strike from outside the box. In the 39th minute, Guro Bergsvand made it 2-0 after a corner kick from Marit Bratberg Lund (6 goals, 7 assists on the season). Kolbotn got their consolation goal when Sandviken’s Aurora Mikalsen committed a penalty in the box. Kolbotn’s Tonje Pedersen was secure from the penalty mark and made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute. Kolbotn’s hopes were soon squashed, however. Toward the end of the game, Sandviken’s striker Vilde Hasund intercepted a pass, went past the goalkeeper, and put the ball into an open net to make it 3-1.

Sandviken has already surpassed the point tally of last year’s league title winners, Vålerenga Kvinner, and the victory increased the gap down to second place Rosenborg to 7 points, having played one more game than the team from Trondheim. They have a 30-goal differential (36-6).

The gap down to Rosenborg could have been even bigger, since Rosenborg struggled in their away match against seventh-place Avaldsnes. They struggled the entire match and couldn’t score until 86 minutes of play, when promising attacker Sara Kanutte Fornes scored the winner after an impressive turn just outside the goal area.

Despite being 7 points behind Sandviken, Rosenborg has shown impressive form this year. They have played 13 matches, won 11, and lost two, both to Sandviken. They ended up in second place last year with 38 points, but if they win their remaining matches in 2021, they’ll end up with 48, enough to win the league title in any other season. Amazingly, Rosenborg went unbeaten in the 18-game 2020 season, finished 2019 with a five-game unbeaten streak and began this season winning its first eight games for a 31-game unbeaten string (22-9-0). They have to wonder what they have to do to finish first.

Last year’s title winners Vålerenga had a disappointing season and are out of the race to challenge for a second consecutive league title. Like we wrote in our preview last spring, their team has been weakened compared with last season, when they lost their star player Sherida Spitse, who moved back to the Netherlands, and their top scorer Ajara Njoya. Their new signing, attacker Elise Thorsnes, has been performing okay, but her five goals in 13 matches is less than expected and not enough to make a real difference.

Lillestrøm Kvinner have been the dominating women’s soccer team in Norway for the past decade. They won seven straight league titles from 2012-2019 but finished fifth last season and are currently 12 points behind Sandviken. Emilie Haavi is the league’s leading scorer with 12 goals, 4 assists. When asked about the state and future of his team, new CEO of Lillestrøm, Stein Ellingsen, said he’s eager for his team to regain the Norwegian soccer throne.

“We’re working every day to get back to where we were. We’re trying to use a realistic strategy, but our goals are sky high. To reach our goals, we need to get as much as possible out of the resources we have available,” he told Nettavisen.no.Toppserien table

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 8, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Alan Dunbar

Award-winning baritone Alan Dunbar holds a bachelor’s degree in music theory and composition from St. Olaf College in Northfield, and advanced degrees in vocal performance from Indiana University in Bloomington. Dunbar was a founding member of the Minnesota-based internationally acclaimed male chamber vocal ensemble Cantus. They made numerous recordings and sung throughout North America and Europe from 1998-2004. Dunbar continues to perform as a soloist and teaches voice at Winona State University in Winona, Minn.

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