Three goalkeepers who can save their way to victory

THREE TO LOOK OUT FOR #1: Two established goalkeepers and one who can break out in France are highlighted in the first part of a series that aims to pinpoint the players who can make their mark on EHF EURO 2018

A year after winning the world title, goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud hopes for more French success at the EHF EURO 2018.

The Women’s EHF EURO 2018 is looming and ehf-euro.com presents an eight-part series focusing on who should be looked out for in every position in France.

This part refers to goalkeepers, one of the most important positions in modern handball, which can propel a team to a win if inspired.

Katrine Lunde, Norway

The 38-year old goalkeeper is one of the most experienced at EHF EURO 2018, having played 283 matches for the national team, nearly 100 more than any other player in Norway’s roster. Lunde is a four-time gold medallist at the EHF EURO, yet she did not play at the last two European tournaments, where the Scandinavian team also won the trophy.

Lunde helped Vipers Kristiansand earn their first ever Norwegian title last season and is currently one of the best goalkeepers in the Women’s EHF Champions League, where she impressed for her club team in the group matches, helping Vipers earn a shocking win against CSM Bucuresti with a 42 per cent save rate.

If Norway are to retain their title and earn the eighth gold medal in ten tournaments, they definitely need Lunde to perform at her best.

The Vipers goalkeeper has already been named the best goalkeeper at three EHF EURO final tournaments (2008, 2010 and 2012), when she saved 283 shots over the course of the tournaments, while also being named the Most Valuable Player at the EHF EURO 2008.

Her form has also been nothing short of superb at last year’s World Championship, when she had 92 saves, a stellar 42 per cent of all shots faced.

Amandine Leynaud, France

Winning the World Championship last year was huge for France, especially considering they are hosting the Women’s EHF EURO in December.

The way that the French side won the competition was not rocket science, rather plain and simple defence, masterminded by coach Olivier Krumbholz.

But when the defence cannot get the job done, they need an intelligent goalkeeper and this is exactly what Amandine Leynaud provides.

Leynaud boasted a 35 per cent save rate at the World Championship, less than teammate Cleopatre Darleux, 41 per cent, but she was instrumental for her team, shutting down opponents in clutch moments.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper took that form into 2018, where she failed at the final hurdle in the Women’s EHF Champions League with Vardar, but was named the MVP of the Women’s EHF FINAL 4 in Budapest, before moving to rivals Györ this season.

Yuliya Dumanska, Romania

They say goalkeepers are getting better and better with age and there is a plethora of examples to back that statement, but once in a generation, a transcendent talent pops up and rewrites what is known as common sense. 22-year old Yuliya Dumanska is not a household name in Romanian handball yet, but her early antics earned her right to be considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Born in Ukraine, she left her home country and went to Baia Mare when she was only 14 and could not understand a word of Romanian.

Slowly, she started learning to speak Romanian, was helped by the owners of her new club and sooner, rather than later, became the first choice in the Romanian team.

While she will make her debut at the EHF EURO, she already left her mark in a major tournament last year, when Dumanska had a 40 per cent save rate, stopping 39 shots in the World Championship.

With her confidence soaring, the 22-year-old goalkeeper was instrumental in her former club, SCM Craiova, winning the Women’s EHF Cup last season, while also lifting her current side, SCM Ramnicu Valcea, to two astonishing wins this season against CSM Bucuresti.

Dumanska is not yet well-known outside Romania, but if she keeps up this form, she will certainly draw some attention at the Women’s EHF EURO.

written by Adrian Costeiu / cor