Gran Canaria within touching distance of title
After winning the EHF Women’s Challenge Cup in 2016, and then losing the final last year, Rocasa Gran Canaria are close to taking the trophy for the second time in their history after clearly beating SPR Pogon Szczecin on their home court, 30:23, in the first leg of the final.
Last year, Polish side MKS Perla Lublin got in the way of Gran Canaria’s Challenge Cup dreams in the final, but this year, the Spanish team seem to be on their way to taking their revenge, against a different team from Poland.
- Cuban left back Lisandra Lusson and Spanish line player Haridian Rodriguez top-scored for Spanish side with seven goals each, four players scored four each for Szczecin
- Rodriguez is competition second-top scorer, with 38 goals
- Spanish side look favourites for title, going into second leg at home with seven-goal advantage
FINAL, FIRST LEG
SPR Pogon Szczecin (POL) vs Rocasa Gran Canaria (ESP) 23:30 (12:17)
The visitors from Spain wasted no time in taking the initiative in this first leg of the EHF Women’s Challenge Cup Final, moving on to a two-goal lead early on (3:1, 4th minute), before the home side regrouped, coming level at 5:5 (8th minute).
But Rocasa kept pushing in front by two and eventually went three ahead (11:8) just short of the 20th minute mark, extending it to five at the half-time break - a lead they first opened up five minutes earlier (15:10) and which had even been six in the 29th minute (17:11).
The second half saw more woe for the home side as Rocasa went seven in front (19:12) thanks to an impotent Polish attack which saw them unable to score in the first seven and a half minutes.
Despite this lack of striking prowess, the home team still managed to give the crowd in the Azoty Arena hope as five goals in a row saw Pogon reduce the deficit to only two goals (19:17 – 44th minute), but they could not get any closer, instead, they had to see their opponents increase their lead again – with a one-on-one defence only helping them very briefly.
Rocasa went on to have their biggest lead at 28:20 with five minutes remaining and the eventual 30:23 win is the first part of what they will expect to be a two-part overall victory as they take a seven-goal lead with them to the return match at home next Sunday.
Photo: Rocasa Gran Canaria