National champions 2016/17 – Women Part 5: South-west
Part five of the six-part series on national champions of the 2016/17 season looks at the south-west, where Colegio de Gaia claimed the Portuguese title after their last victory in 1991, LC Brühl raised their 30th Swiss championship trophy, and Metz Handball capped a successful season by winning the French league.
Colegio de Gaia end 16-year wait for title
After winning the last national title in 1991, Colegio de Gaia dominated Portuguese handball again in 2017.
2016/17 was very positive for Paula Castro’s team, who began to look like a contender for the title early in the season. They finished the first phase in second place and were a stand-out side in the next stages of the competition.
In the final, Colegio’s dominance was evident, as they won all three legs of the final against Madeira SAD (25:18, 27:25, 21:17).
In addition to the national title, the team also won Taça de Portugal, obtaining the first double in the history of the club and the third Taça de Portugal in their history.
Guardes makes history
Galician team Mecalia Atletico Guardes celebrated the club’s 50th anniversary by winning the Liga Loterías for the first time in history, ending four seasons of dominance from Bera Bera.
The victory was a significant achievement for the club from a town with a population of just 10,000, who won the league in the last round.
Canaria team Rocasa Gran Canaria, who finished third in the league, won the Copa de la Reina by beating Bera Bera in extra time in the final. It was the second Copa in club history, after they claimed the first in 2015.
Anniversary trophy for LC Brühl
For the 30th time, the St. Gallen-based team became national champions and were crowned double winners as they also raised the Swiss Cup.
But the final series against LK Zug was closer than expected, as a third duel was needed to decide the best-of-three-series. Brühl won the opener on ground 34:26, then lost at Zug 20:25.
A brilliant attacking performance in the crucial last match was the key to their clear 39:24 victory, which was all but confirmed with the 21:9 at the break.
Out of the 30 matches in the entire season including the finals, Brühl took 24 victories and were ahead in all rankings. Defending champions Spono Eagles finished third after the final round.
While Zug’s Kerstin Kündig was awarded best Swiss player of the season, Teja Ferfolja (Thun) received best player of the league thanks largely to her 182 goals. The top scorer was Sybille Scherer (LK Zug) with 198 goals.
Metz claim second consecutive title
Metz Handball extended the club’s record to 21 national titles when they claimed their second league trophy in a row after a close season.
Facing Brest in the final, who were only promoted from the second league the previous summer, Metz won the championship by just three goals. Metz claimed a one-goal away victory in the first leg before snatching the title with a two-goal win at home.
Their victory was somewhat expected, as Metz finished first in the regular season with a seven-point advantage over Issy-Paris and 12 ahead of Brest.
In the play-offs, Issy stumbled against Brest, losing by eight at home in an emotional game. Stine Oftedal, the iconic Norwegian Issy centre back, said farewell that day before moving to Györ for next season.
For Metz, this title was the end to a perfect season, after they reached the EHF Champions League Quarter-finals and won the national cup.
Eighth title for La Salle
La Salle Rivareno reclaimed the title won in 2016 with a near-perfect season that saw them record only one loss. The eight-time national champions tallied two more wins than runners-up Aloysians, and celebrated the trophy after the last victory of the season – 22:21 – against the second-placed side.
La Salle also won the MHA Super Cup after beating Aloysians 27:21 in the final.
Salerno reclaim title versus Cup winners
Jomi Salerno lifted the trophy again in 2017, after waiting three years since their last Italian league title. Coach Salvatore Cardaci celebrated his fifth title at the helm when Salerno defeated Italian Cup winners Indeco Conversano to claim first place.
“It was not easy after the defeat in the second match of the final series to find the energy or mentality. It was a great victory,” said Cardaci after his side won the third match in the series 27:25.
Salerno and Conversano combine with men’s champions Bozen and runners-up Fasano to tally a total of 13 out of 16 Italian titles awarded over the last eight years.
The only senior team in Andorra is Concordia Andorra, who compete in the Catalan league. Concordia finished sixth out of nine at Primera Catalana, the lower category.