Golden players make the team of the season

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EHF / Adrian Costeiu

The top female players in handball have been honoured in a glitzy EHF Excellence Awards Gala in Vienna on Monday evening, with 10 players being on the recipient list of awards for their excellent performances throughout the last season, both at the club and at the national team level.

After the shortlist containing seven players for every position was released, a transparent voting process ensued, with players, coaches and selected media as well as fans being eligible to participate in the voting once the shortlist became available on eurohandball.com, with each group’s votes accounting for 25% of the overall result for every position.

10 players as well as the MVP of the season were selected after the votes were cast, and the MVP was Norway’s and Vipers Kristiansand’s goalkeeper, Katrine Lunde, who also won the top goalkeeper award.

Lunde has delivered one of the best seasons in her entire career, becoming the first-ever player to win the EHF Champions League Women seven times after Vipers Kristiansand dominated the EHF FINAL4 in Budapest, while also being the shot-stopper with the highest number of saves in the European premium competition last season, 197.

Earlier, Lunde delivered an excellent tournament at the EHF EURO 2022, sealing her sixth gold medal in the competition, which also makes her the most successful player in history at the EHF EURO.

Norway dominate yet again

Norway’s success has rubbed on many of the voters, with four of the 10 players who received awards in the Gala coming from the Scandinavian country, with Lunde being joined by three Team Esbjerg players: right back Nora Mørk; centre back Henny Reistad and line player Vilde Ingstad.

All of them secured nominations due to their excellent performances at the EHF EURO, but the Team Esbjerg contingent – the only team with three players at the EHF Excellence Awards securing trophies – doubled down with some outstanding performances in the EHF Champions League Women.

Reistad, the MVP of the EHF EURO 2022, was also the top scorer of the European premium competition, with 142 goals, 24 more than any other player, having the second-best performance in terms of goals scored in a single season in the history of the competition. She also became the all-time top goal scorer of the EHF FINAL4, with 60 goals in four editions.

Mørk became one of the five players in history with five EHF EURO trophies, as her antics helped Norway secure another gold medal in the continental competition, being the top goal scorer at the EHF EURO 2022, with 50 goals. She also helped Esbjerg secure a place in the EHF FINAL4, finishing the EHF Champions League Women with 76 goals.

Line player Vilde Ingstad, who will move to CSM Bucuresti this summer, was nothing short of outstanding both at the EHF EURO 2022 and in the European premium competition, being an integrant part of her teams on both sides of the ball. She was 15th in the top goal scorer list in the EHF Champions League Women, with 78 goals, the best scoring line player in the competition.

The fourth Esbjerg player to clinch an award was team captain Kathrine Heindahl, who was the best defender of the season. Heindahl had 16 blocks and anchored Esbjerg’s defence, one of the best in the European premium competition, while making the All-Star team at the EHF EURO 2022 where she was the best defender, helping Denmark seal the silver medal.

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Record-setting Neagu earns another award

The votes were cast for all positions, and the best left back in the past season was Cristina Neagu, CSM Bucuresti’s stalwart who adds another trophy to her cabinet. Neagu became the third player in history to score at least 1000 goals in the EHF Champions League Women, after Jovanka Radicevic and Anita Görbicz, and now currently sits in second place on the all-time goal scorer list, with 1029 goals.

Neagu is also the all-time best scorer at the EHF EURO in both the men’s and women’s competitions, becoming the first player in history to hit the 300-goal mark at the EHF EURO 2022, when she improved her overall tally to 303 goals.

Surprises were sprung at the inaugural EHF Excellence Awards Gala, as two right backs were honoured for the same position, as the votes failed to make a difference between Nora Mørk and Györi Audi ETO KC’s stalwart, Ana Gros. The Slovenian right back was the fifth-best scorer in this season’s EHF Champions League Women with 99 goals and also helped Slovenia finish eighth at the EHF EURO 2022, with 36 goals scored in seven matches.

Friis, Foppa and Malestein also make the cut

The All-Star left wing of the EHF EURO 2022 and the MVP of the EHF Finals Women, Emma Friis, has secured the award for the left wing, while FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria’s Angela Malestein, who was the sixth top scorer in the EHF Champions League Women, with 92 goals, secured the award for the right wing.

22-year-old French line player Pauletta Foppa, who was also the All-Star young player of the EHF Champions League Women in the 2021/22 season, made the list at the EHF Excellence Awards as the best rookie, finishing fourth at the EHF EURO 2022 with France and receiving the award for All-Star line player.

Women's Team of the Season:

Left wing: Emma Friis - DEN / Ikast Handbold
Left back: Cristina Neagu - ROU / CSM Bucuresti
Centre back: Henny Reistad - NOR / Team Esbjerg
Right back: Nora Mørk – NOR / Team Esbjerg
Right back: Ana Gros – SLO / Gyori Audi ETO KC
Right wing: Angela Malestein – NED / FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria
Line player: Vilde Ingstad – NOR / Team Esbjerg
Goalkeeper: Katrine Lunde – NOR / Vipers Kristiansand
Defender: Kathrine Heindahl – DEN / Team Esbjerg
Rookie of the season: Pauletta Foppa – FRA / Brest Bretagne Handball

MVP Beach Handball: María Asunción Batista Portero – ESP / CATS A.M. Team Almeria

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