HC Erlangen captured a point with a strong display against the FINAL FOUR participants HSG Wetzlar. The team of Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson drew 25:25 with the club from Central Hesse and now has 22 points from 30 games.
That points total is an impressive result given all the adversities and injuries that have dogged HC Erlangen in the season so far. HC Erlangen was also missing three key players – Johannes Sellin, Andreas Schröder and Jan Schäffer – in the encounter against HSG Wetzlar, which will take part for the first time in the cup FINAL FOUR in Hamburg this weekend. Shortly before the throw-off, Eyjólfsson suffered another blow when Gorazd Skof was forced to withdraw with problems with his neck muscles. Yet HC Erlangen has shown several times this season that it can get over these setbacks, went into the game buoyed by two wins in a row and – as in the home victory over Hanover – displayed a form that also kindled euphoria among the 4,000 spectators in the ARENA NÜRNBERGER Versicherung. Playing in its black strip, Erlangen once more threw itself after every ball, fought for every inch of ground in defense, and repeatedly irritated the opposing side, enabling it to keep the game up for grabs. The club from Franconia never allowed the visitors, whose ranks were bejeweled with experienced internationals in every position, to pull away and went in with the scores tied at 12:12 after a strong and passionately contested first half.
The game continued at the same pace after the break. A quaking ARENA spurred on the HC Erlangen in its attacks, well aware that the team on court gives its all for its fans to the very end. It was clear to every one of those fans that – in view of the intensity and commitment both teams invested – the encounter would not be decided until the death. The time of Benjamin Buric then came with ten minutes remaining. Wetzlar’s goalkeeper, who will play for SG Flensburg-Handewitt next season, prevented Erlangen from taking the lead on several occasions with spectacular saves and so helped put his team ahead by three goals for the first time. What has proven to be the undoing of opposing sides in Nuremberg several times in the past years then happened again. Together with the crowd, the HC Erlangen picked itself up again and did all in its might to avert the impending defeat. The players around captain Michael Haaß played their attacks out patiently, made very good decisions in this spell and so had the chance to keep a point in Nuremberg with 30 seconds to go. Eyjólfsson called a timeout, Erlangen’s fans stood to their feet, and the HC also played so coolly and cleverly that Maximilian Lux was able to score the equalizer to the roars of the crowd.
HC Erlangen is now unbeaten for three games after the draw against HSG Wetzlar and can now fully focus on preparing for the difficult away game against Melsungen and its star ensemble worth millions.
Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson commented: “Today we saw an intense, but very good game of handball with a deserved result. My team’s morale inspired me again and I can only repeat that we are on the right track.”