Herning-Ikast seeking fresh European triumph
After reaching the semi-finals of the Women’s EHF Cup in the last two seasons, Herning-Ikast Handbold are aiming to reach the first EHF Finals in the new-look EHF European League Women.
With new coach Kasper Christensen at the helm, the 2019 Danish cup winners enter the group phase seeking to win the club’s first European trophy in six years.
- qualified directly for the EHF European League group phase
- squad is comprised almost entirely of Scandinavian players
- will face Vaci NKSE, HC Zvezda and Paris 92 in group A
- added Norwegian left back Ingvild Bakkerud among five summer additions
The burning question: Can Herning-Ikast add another European trophy to their haul?
With four appearances in the knockout rounds of European Cup competitions since their last European trophy, Herning-Ikast have been close to adding to their collection of European trophies.
Having reached the semi-finals of the EHF Cup last season, Herning Ikast suffered the disappointment of the competition being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is certain to provide motivation for the team to go at least as far in the EHF European League.
“We really want to win the group and reach the semi-finals. We did not get the chance to play the (EHF Cup) semi-finals last season because of Covid-19, so we are really motivated to reach this goal,” said team captain Stine Skogrand.
Norwegian international left back Ingvild Bakkerud left Odense to join fellow Norwegian backs Stine Skogrand and Helene Fauske at the club in the summer, but Herning-Ikast’s form in the Danish league this season has fluctuated.
Herning-Ikast started the Danish league season with five consecutive wins before they endured a six-game run without a win, including three defeats against the teams currently occupying the top three places in the league standings: Odense, Esbjerg and Viborg.
Head coach Kasper Christensen, who joined the club in the summer of 2020, believes that facing strong opponents in the EHF European League can have a positive effect on his side.
“We believe that the many great matches in an intense programme can make us even sharper also for the Danish league, because it will mean a good amount of time on the court for all our players,” he said.
If Christensen's side benefit from the intensity of the match schedule, Herning-Ikast might be able to find the extra gear needed to claim another European trophy.
The showstopper – Helene Fauske
No Herning-Ikast player has lit up the scoreboard more often in Europe in the last two seasons than Helene Fauske.
Excluding qualification rounds, Fauske scored 70 goals in the EHF Cup in 2018/19 and 53 goals in 2019/20, so expect the Norwegian centre back to fire in the goals again this season.
Captain fantastic – Stine Skogrand
Able to play right back or right wing, Stine Skogrand’s versatility, as well as her ability at both ends of the court, makes her an extremely valued member of Norway’s national them.
In the Danish league this season, Skogrand’s 85 goals in 13 games puts her third on the top scorers’ list.
Emerging talent – Jessica Ryde
The Swedish goalkeeper is not an entirely fresh face for Herning-Ikast, but she has had a tremendous autumn.
Ryde has the top save percentage in the Danish league – 43.2% per cent – and was selected to play for Sweden at the Women’s EHF EURO 2020. At 26 years old, it is possible that Ryde’s best years between the posts are just beginning.
A night to remember
In the EHF Champions League 2015/16 season, Herning-Ikast – then known as FC Midtjylland and coached by Helle Thomsen – travelled to Hungary in September 2015 to face Győri Audi ETO KC in a group C match.
Trailing 10:6 after 20 minutes, Midtjylland had already received four suspensions – but their overall appetite for the defensive side of the game would ultimately prove to be a positive rather than a negative.
With the half-time score level at 11:11, Midtjylland then moved up a level at the start of the second half. An almost impenetrable defence, ably supported by goalkeeper Sabine Englert, helped the Danish side enjoy a 6:1 run in 13 minutes as a back line of Veronica Kristiansen, Stine Jørgensen and Louise Burgaard converted their opportunities at the other end.
Unlike quite a few teams that have wilted when placed under pressure in Győr, Midtjylland sealed a resounding 26:21 win.
Although Midtjylland recorded a 22:22 draw in Denmark against Győr in their final group C match, they exited the competition after losing five consecutive matches in the main round.
Newcomers and departures
Newcomers: Simone Petersen (TUS Metzingen), Ingvild Bakkerud (Odense Håndbold), Frida Svingholm (Herning-Ikast Handbold youth team), Mie Sophie Sando (Larvik – resuming career), Line Mai Hougaard (Randers HK)
Departures: Mathilde Bjerregaard (retired), Tonje Løseth (Brest Bretagne Handball), Julie Pedersen (HH Elite), Emilie Steffensen (Nykøbing Falster Handbøld), Annika Jakobsen (Silkeborg-Voel KFUM), Jeanett Kristiansen (Vipers Kristiansand), Julie Jensen (on loan to Silkeborg-Voel KFUM)
EHF Champions League:
Fourth place (1): 2013/14
Semi-finals (1): 2002/03
Quarter-finals (4): 1998/99, 2004/05, 2016/17, 2017/18
Main round (3): 2008/09 2011/12, 2015/16
Group matches (1): 2003/04
Qualification tournament (1): 2014/15
Winners (2): 2001/02, 2010/11
Runners-up (1): 2006/07
Semi-finals (4): 2007/08, 2012/13, 2018/19, 2019/20 (season cancelled)
Quarter-finals (1): 2005/06
Round 4 (2): 2000/01, 2009/10
Cup Winners' Cup:
Winners (2): 2003/04, 2014/15
Semi-finals (1): 1999/00
Last 32 (1): 1995/96
Winners (1): 1997/98
Final round (2): 2001/02, 2002/03
Winners (1): 1997/98
Runners-up (1): 1996/97
Semi-finals (1): 1994/95
Danish league: 4 titles (1998, 2011, 2013, 2015)
Danish cup: 8 titles (1990, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2019)