20 rising stars to watch for the future

20 FOR 2020: As we head into the first women’s national team week of the season, we present 20 players to look out for in the future

Hungary's Sara Suba, photo credit: IHF

This week sees women’s national teams gather for the first time this season to begin preparation for December’s Women’s EHF EURO in France and beyond.

The summer of 2018 saw women’s youth age teams take centre stage at the IHF Women’s Junior and Youth World Championships in Hungary and Poland – and there were plenty of rising stars who proved they are worth watching out for in the future.

The EHF EURO in France may come too soon for most of these players, but do not be surprised if you see them appear on the senior international stage between now and the 2020 Olympic Games.

1. Elena Mikhaylichenko (17), Russia

The MVP at the Youth World Championship played for both Russia’s U20 and U18 squads this summer, making it to the final weekend in both competitions. Mikhaylichenko was top scorer for Russia at both Hungary 2018 (45 goals) and Poland 2018 (44), with almost all her goals scored from her preferred position of left back.

2. Noemi Hafra (19), Hungary

Noemi Hafra was Hungary’s second top scorer on the way to their maiden Junior world title in July, with a total of 43 goals. The Junior World Championship All-star left back has a powerful, precise shot and is also important in defence.

3. Henny Reistad (19), Norway

All-star centre back at Hungary 2018, All-star left back at the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2017, and best rookie and All-star left back of Norway’s Eliteserien 2017/18. Reistad has been marked as a bright prospect in Norwegian handball for years and played a key role in the Scandinavian side’s silver medal at Hungary 2018.

4. Emma Friis (18), Denmark

Named as the All-star left wing at the Youth World Championship in 2016 then Junior World Championship in 2018, speedy left wing Emma Friis contributed 46 goals towards Denmark’s campaign in Hungary.

5. Julia Weise (18), Germany

The ever-reliable right wing missed just two shots at the Youth World Championship. Weise, who has international club experience with HC Leipzig, netted 30 goals at 94% accuracy, including 15/15 fast breaks and 10/12 from the wing.

6. Sara Suba (19), Hungary

Hungary were helped with their Junior World Championship campaign by three outstanding keepers who worked in rotation, but Sara Suba stood out for her speed and ability to perform in the most mentally challenging matches. She finished with a 40 per cent save rate along with her gold medal.

7. Milana Tazhenova (19), Russia

With 45 goals scored for Russia at Hungary 2018, Tazhenova was clearly a threat to any team defending against her – but it was her leadership, both on and off the court which were most noticeable and indicative of her mind for the game. The centre back led the team’s half-time talks and decided many of the attacking tactics on court.

8. Katrin Klujber (19), Hungary

Variation of shots, speed, confidence from the penalty line – Katrin Klujber is a serious threat at right back. The 19-year-old was Hungary’s top scorer at the home World Championship and fifth overall, with 50 goals; 22 of those from seven metres.

9. Diana Ciuca (18), Romania

Diana Ciuca was the second top-ranked goalkeeper at the Youth World Championship, despite her team’s unexpectedly early exit in the round of 16. She saved 44 per cent out of 81 shots against her, including nine penalties.

10. Anna Vereshchak (17), Russia

With 86 saves at 46 per cent, Anna Vereshchak earned the All-Star Team goalkeeper award at the Youth World Championship. The goalkeeper is impossible to ignore, not only because of her impressive statistics – which show she ranked top on difficult breakthrough, six-metre and wing shots – but because of her height. At 195 cm, she is a formidable presence in goal.

11. Tamara Pal (18), Hungary

With a calm presence under pressure, powerful shot and fast feint, 18-year-old back Tamara Pal was another who showed the future of the Hungary women’s national team is in very safe hands. Pal scored 48 goals, including 20 out of 22 shots from seven metres, at Poland 2018.

12. Nikita van der Vliet (18), Netherlands

It is rare for a line player to be the top scorer for their team, let alone a World Championship – but that is exactly what Nikita van der Vliet achieved in Poland. Van der Vliet tallied 64 goals and finished as the All-star line player as well as top scorer at the Youth World Championship.

13. Aimee Von Pereira (18), Germany

Aimee Von Pereira made a name for herself at the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2017, when she was awarded MVP of the continental championship, won by Germany. The back had a strong World Championship campaign in Poland, playing a key role in Germany’s defence, scoring 39 goals, and converting 18 penalties.

14. Nikollett Toth (17), Hungary

Used primarily as an impact player in Poland, Nikollett Toth showed she has enormous potential to be another back court star for Hungary. The 17-year-old is fast mover and quick thinker, delivering perfect passes to set up opportunities for her teammates and being a danger of her own on breakthroughs.

15. Laetitia Quist (16), Germany

At just 16 years of age, Laetitia Quist stepped up to play an important role for Germany as they secured fifth place at the Youth World Championship.
The right back always performed in the critical moments, scoring the match-winning goal when Germany beat Croatia 25:24 in the round of 16, then the final two goals – including an equaliser inside the last minute – when Germany lost a nail-baiting quarter-final to South Korea.

16. Lovisa Thompson (18), Iceland

A strong left back with a fast feint, reliable shot and determination: Lovisa Thompson is one of the most promising among an interesting generation of Iceland players, who showed women’s handball in Iceland is worth watching out for. She scored 39 goals for Iceland at Hungary 2018.

17. Magda Wieckowska (18), Poland

It was Poland’s debut at the Youth World Championship, she was playing in her home town and she had the responsibility of captain – Magda Wieckowska rose to the occasion spectacularly, proving she could handle the pressure and standing out as the key figure in Poland’s attack at their home World Championship. The left back was the hosts’ top scorer with 32 goals.

18. Josefine Hultberg-Dahlgren (17), Sweden

Sweden’s number one goalkeeper Josefine Hultberg-Dahlgren made the most saves at Poland 2018, stopping 100 shots. She was reliable support for Sweden’s defence throughout their campaign, playing almost the entire 60 minutes of every match.

19. Sorina-Maria Tirca (19), Romania

Romania can always count one prolific shooting talent in their women’s national teams, no matter the age group. Tirca is the sharp-shooting left back in the junior squad, tallying 47 goals to lead Romania’s attack in Hungary.

20. Camille Depuiset (20), France

France are known for their trademark strong defence and goalkeeper Camille Depuiset works very effectively with this system. Alongside her keeping colleague Roxanne Frank, Depuiset recorded a 40 per cent save rate at Hungary 2018, stopping 63.

written by Courtney Gahan / cor