The disappointment after the penalty shoot-out defeat in the semi-final of the European League was massive, but less than 24 hours later, the Black and Yellow celebrations in Graz were wild. When Alina Grijseels joined the chorus of Black and Yellow fans singing songs with the medal around her neck, any semblance of sadness had long-since faded away. Third place in the European League is an achievement that will stay with the ladies forever.
“Indescribable, just mega,” were the first words from Dana Bleckmann immediately after receiving her medal. “It’s just a really great feeling and a well-deserved reward for all the work we put into the European League this season.” From the very first second of the third-place play-off, you could sense it in the hall that Henk Groener’s girls had come to win the bronze medal.
Lisa Antl summed it up afterwards: “That’s why it’s just so cool. We were absolutely desperate to claim third place, and we fought hard as a team and held each other together.” Yara ten Holte played a very special role in the success. The BVB shot-stopper made an astonishing 24 saves with an incredible 53% save rate – a world class performance. “Yara was outstanding. We had a great defence,” captain Alina Grijseels said afterwards. The ladies’ mindset in particular was just right this afternoon – although their will to win had never been in doubt before the match. “I didn’t have to motivate my team today, everyone really wanted to win,” said coach Henk Groener.
And he knows well that this bronze medal is the crowning glory of the European season for BVB, which started in December with two qualifying matches and brought the team to Hungary, Norway, twice to France and finally to Austria. An extremely long journey, with last-second wins, a game against in front of a record attendance and a comeback for the history books. All of this was crowned by an incredibly emotional climax at the end of the season, which all those involved will remember for the rest of their lives.