Reistad: Our deep squad has brought us this farArticle
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INTERVIEW: A deep squad and a number of experienced players are the main reasons Vipers Kristiansand are extremely close to the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4, according to the Norwegian team’s young playmaker Henny Reistad
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Reistad: Our deep squad has brought us this far

Things have happened fast for Vipers Kristiansand lately. Last season, the team from southern Norway made their debut in the Women’s EHF Champions League, but had to leave the competition after the group matches – though they did go on to become Norwegian champions for the first time in history. 

This season, Vipers have made it all the way to the Champions League Quarter-final, and after winning the first leg of their tie against Buducnost 24:19 away last Sunday, Kristiansand are very close to the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4.

“We may be relatively new to all this as a team and as a club, but we have several players who have plenty of experience from this level, and we benefit a lot from their experience,” says Vipers playmaker Henny Reistad, who turned 20 in February this year.

“Furthermore, we have a very deep squad, where we have double coverage of virtually every position. That has also been a big advantage to us in these matches.”

Surprised by the clear win in Podgorica

“The fact that we had the possibility to change a lot and give all players a rest, due to our deep squad, also had a decisive impact on our away against Buducnost,” says Reistad.

“Buducnost could not make as many substitutions as we could, and that obviously made them tired towards the end. Still, I was surprised that we could win as clearly as by five goals down there, and I think we all were.

“Very few teams win away against Buducnost at all, but our defence worked very well all the way, and we only let 19 goals in, which played a crucial part in our win of course.” 

Reistad was the top scorer of the low-scoring match in S. C. Moraca on Sunday evening, with six goals. She also did her part in the successful Vipers defence – so much that it cost her three two-minute suspensions and consequently a red card.

Same recipe for the second leg

Reistad has no doubt about the key to the return match in Kristiansand’s Aquarama on Saturday evening.

“The recipe should be the same as in the first match – a big effort in defence and using our ability to make more substitutions than them. If we can stick to our concept, I think our chance to reach the FINAL4 is very big,” she says. 

“Five goals is a rather clear lead before a home game, and although it should not be a pillow to us, and although Buducnost are an experienced team, we are strong at home. So, I think our chances to take the overall win are very good now.” 

A bit surreal

While things have happened fast for Vipers lately, they have happened even faster for Reistad.

At the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 in France in December, she was part of the Norway team. Even though she could not be quite content with finishing fifth, Reistad had personal success in several matches and enjoyed a large confidence boost from national coach Thorir Hergeirsson.

In Vipers’s Champions League campaign this season, the 20-year-old has also been a key player in several matches.

“The international experience I have gained over the past year had meant a lot to me and I really feel that I have developed as a handball player by playing all these games in an international and often intense atmosphere.

“In many of our matches in the Norwegian league, we are used to winning by 10 goals or more. That makes it even greater to really be challenged in matches in the Champions League, where we are put under pressure,” says the young centre back, for whom it still seems a bit surreal that she and her team are so close to their first FINAL4 in history.

“At the start of this Champions League season, our goal was to go on from the group matches. At that point, even mentioning the FINAL4 was considered to be almost unrealistic, and now we are really close all of a sudden.

“Playing the FINAL4 would obviously be so big, to me as well as to our entire team and to the club.”

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg