Ekipe are back on Europe’s premier club competitions podium for the first time in twelve years with a convincing four-goal victory over Dunaujvaros (12-8)
The Italians came out the traps with immense intensity in attack, finding some beautiful scores throughout the first half to build a big advantage.
Ekipe shooters had a bit of a field day in truth, with the Dunaujvaros defence helpless to stop the Italians goal-scoring rhythm. While the Hungarians did well in the last quarter, it was too little too late.
Valeria Palmieri was incredibly deadly from centre-forward, netting three times. Marletta, Halligan and Gant all added double-scores.
Ekipe are not used to finishing third in this competition, but Martina Miceli will be satisfied that her team’s performance this weekend will be something to build on for the future. They were quite unlucky to lose the first semi-final against Sabadell, and will know they have the potential to reach greater things, not least in their bid to retain their Italian Championship title later next month.
Dunaujvaros needs to see this weekend for what it was; it was a great achievement to be one of the top-four teams on the continent, something that nobody really believed could happen at the start of the season. If they can channel the spirit that led them into the Final-4 of this competition, they will be tough opponents in the play-offs of the Hungarian Championship.
Dunaujvaros 8 – 12 Ekipe Orizzonte (1-5,4-4, 0-2, 3-1)
Dunaujvaros: L. Maczko, C. Jonkl, N. Sajben, L. Dorina Dobi, B. Horvath, G. Mahieu, N. Szabo, K. Garda, D. Kardos, L. Somogyvari, R. Pal, N. Sumegi, L. Aarts
Ekipe Orizzonte: L. Celona, B. Halligan, C. Grasso, G. Viacava, D. Bettini, V. Palmieri, C. Marletta, G.Gagliardi, A. Williams, A. Longo, M. Leone, A. Condorelli
Dunaujvaros were really caught cold by a quite outstanding and ruthless opening eight minutes from the Italians. Practically everything that the Orizzonte touched turned to gold, stamping their authority early on to take a 5-1 lead in the first.
Marletta opened proceedings with a beautiful lob, before her International colleague Valeria Palmieri tucked home with the game’s second goal from a sweeping backshot. Krisztina Garda pulled one back for Ujvaros via the 5m penalty line, but the joy ended there for the Hungarians, with Williams, Halligan and Gaia Gagliardi all hitting the target impressively to open a five goal difference.
The Hungarians showed a marked improvement in the second quarter, but didn’t really make a dent in the Ekipe lead. French-Hungarian, Geraldine Mahieu, was operating well on 2m, and Krisztina Garda added two consecutive scores to breathe some life into her team, but Ekipe still continued to make headway with some delightful shooting from Claudia Marletta, Veronica Gant and Bronte Halligan. Krisztina Garda’s late effort in the half made it 9-5, but the Ujvaros number eight was really the only lifeline keeping her team still in the contest.
The goals dried up into the third period, with neither side able to break the deadlock for the first six minutes of the second half. Attila Mihok’s team kept pushing, but were denied well by Aurora Condorelli time and time again. Soon enough, Ekipe re-found their attacking groove, and found two goals in a minute, fully exploiting their extra-player set-plays (11-5). Now into double-digits, Ekipe had significant breathing space, and had one hand on their bronze medals.
Dunaujvaros won the last quarter 3-1, a small consolation in a game in which they were well beaten. All three goals were scored in a numerical advantage, with Lili Dobi grabbing a brace, and Mahieu earning a deserved goal.
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