Germany 2017: The Netherlands defeat Sweden to take the 23rd IHF Women’s World Championship bronze medal, two years after they stood on the podium for the first time ever.
2015 was the beginning of a Dutch handball dynasty, as the team won their first ever IHF Women’s World Championship medal when they claimed silver in Denmark. Since then, The Netherlands have made it to the medal round at the 2016 Olympic Games, where they ranked fourth, and finished as runners-up at the EHF EURO 2016.
One year after they took the silver medal in Gothenburg, The Netherlands added another medal to their record, as they beat Sweden by three goals to win the bronze at Germany 2017.
“I’m so happy and proud of the girls,” said The Netherlands captain Danick Snelder. “It was a good game for the audience and great to watch until the last minute.”
Sweden vs The Netherlands 21:24 (8:14)
The Netherlands well and truly earned the bronze medal with a strong performance against Sweden, which saw them leading by six goals at half-time, before surviving a comeback from the Scandinavian side to finish with a three-goal score line in their favour. After a level opening 15 minutes, the 2015 runners-up took command through the second quarter with a 9:3 run before the break. During that period, it was only centre back Isabelle Gullden who could find the goal past a top-form Tess Wester in The Netherlands goal.
Wester was crucial in The Netherlands victory, particularly in the first half when she saved at a rate of 43%. It was Wester who secured the win in the final minutes of the match, after Sweden came fighting back from a 9:16 deficit. After the seven-goal difference in the 34th minute, Sweden kept The Netherlands scoreless for an incredible 15 minutes, allowing them to take the upper hand at 18:16. The Netherlands fought back to equalise at 18:18 in the 52nd, and a tense end to the match followed.
In the final minutes it was The Netherlands who rose to the occasion, with five goals – including three from Estavana Polman – in the last three minutes and more saves from Wester to secure the victory.
“They were better over the 60 minutes, and that’s what counts,” said Sweden coach Henrik Signell after the match. “Of course, it is not such a fun situation [to lose the medal].
“We had a bad first half. Our attack was too slow, too passive. But as we have done many times in this tournament, we showed great morale [to fight back to level].”