Everybody knows that Andy Schmid is one of the most gifted players on the offensive end, but he also played a decisive role during his team’s win in Flensburg on Wednesday. The Rhein-Neckar Löwen conquered the Flens-Arena with a stunning 32:25 (18:10) victory and the Swiss playmaker didn’t only score five times himself, but stopped Lasse Svan on a breakaway with a spectacular save.
Before the game most experts had predicted a close win for the hosts and the crowd was roaring before the match even started. The atmosphere was electric and it was wildly anticipated, that the guests will have a tough time against a team on a 15-game winning streak. But the lions stunned the SG with a superb performance, especially in the first half.
Flensburg had trouble right from the beginning, as the guests found a lot of holes in the hosts defense. The SG used a 6:0-formation, but lacked aggressiveness and wasn’t able to control the back-court of the Rhein-Neckar Löwen. Kim Ekdahl du Rietz and Alexander Petersson in particular were set up by Schmid various times and got a lot of easy goals.
In addition to Flensburg’s shaky defense goalkeeper Mattias Andersson had an off day, making just two saves before being replaced by his Danish back-up Kevin Möller. But Möller didn’t have a strong outing as well, saving just seven shot during the remainder of the game. Their counterpart Mikael Appelgren on the other end didn’t shine as well, but he didn’t have to because of his defense.
Because the league-leading lions played very efficient on offense and didn’t make a lot of mistakes they took an eight-goal lead (18:10) into halftime. In the second half the hosts played much better and were able to cut the deficit to three (19:22, 21:24) twice, but when they had the chance to cut it down further, turnovers and bad shot selections made a comeback impossible.
Flensburg’s usually calm head coach Ljubomir Vranjes was furious regarding the referees after the game, but admitted that “the far better team won today and deserved to do so”. Only Rasmus Lauge, who had eight goals, put on a very good performance for Flensburg and even though Holger Glandorf scored six times, he looked insecure in his decisions and woke up once it was already too late.
While the SG now seems to be out of the title race (25:7), the Rhein-Neckar Löwen (30:2) made a huge step forward to the first league championship in league history, although Schmid said afterwards: “This win just means that we won a very important game, nothing else.” Swiss understatement, just as usual. A win in Kiel just before Christmas might change that…
Flensburg: Lauge (8), Glandorf (6), Eggert (3/3), Mahé (3), Svan (3), Toft Hansen (2)
Rhein-Nacker: Gensheimer (9/4), Schmid (5/1), Ekdahl du Rietz (5), Petersson (4), Pekeler (3), Groetzki (3), Baena (2), Larsen (1)