By Sam Harris | For IBSA
The German men’s and women’s teams gave their home crowds two reasons to be cheerful with opening wins at the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball European Championships A in Rostock on Tuesday (8 October).
The competition opened in style with evening matches that drew local crowds to the Stadthalle Rostock.
World Championships silver medallists Germany started their men’s pool A campaign with a comprehensive 9-4 win over Spain.
Four goals from Oliver Horauf helped the hosts hold off a second-half fightback from the Spaniards.
The Stadthalle saw an opening period heavily in favour of the hosts, ending with 3-1 lead courtesy of Michael Feistle after Spain’s Felix Vargas was forced into a couple of excellent saves.
The deficit was cut minutes into the second half by Pedro Martin but the home side netted back-to-back goals to lead 5-2.
The sides exchanged goals twice to make it 7-4 before Vargas then saved an attempt from Oliver Horauf. But Reno Tiede promptly extended the lead with an uncompromising finish.
The Germans, who are also hoping to improve on a silver medal from 2017, defended well and Horauf added two more goals to ensure a winning start.
The women then added to the perfect start with a commanding 10-2 victory over the Netherlands.
They raced into a two goal lead courtesy of Charlotte Hartz and Stefanie Behrens before the Dutch halved the deficit.
However, the home side promptly hit back with another three unanswered goals from Hartz, Behrens and Pia Knaute to lead 5-1 at half-time.
The second period was a more evenly matched affair with Hartz and their opponents making important saves.
Hartz also made an impressive penalty block before an effort from Behrens extended her team’s lead to six.
The Netherlands grabbed a consolation goal from Stephanie Boenink but a fightback did not materialise. Instead Annkathrin Denker found the back of the net twice, and Hartz once more, giving Germany a comfortable opening win.
Full results are available at the official Championships website.
Ten men’s and 10 women’s teams from 15 countries are going for titles in Rostock, with the added bonus of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games slots for those teams not already qualified.
The competition is being shown live on the IBSA YouTube channel and IBSA Goalball Facebook.
The 2019 IBSA Goalball European Championships Group A begin with three days of group games between 8-10 October. The quarter-finals for both men’s and women’s take place on 11 October followed by the semi-finals on 12 October.
The medal games conclude competition on Sunday 13 October.
Games will take place in two venues: The Rostock Stadthalle and OSPA Arena with Stadthalle staging the finals.