Spain were champions in Iceland yet Germany did not leave the 2015 UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship entirely empty-handed as centre-forward Stefanie Sanders was crowned the top scorer.
By plundering six goals from four outings at the finals, the SV Werder Bremen forward not only supplemented her haul of four in three during qualifying but also stood at the vanguard of a clinical set of attackers who made this the most prolific ever WU17 tournament.
That the Germany No9 provided the biggest individual chunk of the 45 goals registered in 15 finals matches (surpassing the aggregate of 37 in 16 in 2013/14) owed much to her exploits in a matchday three game against England that Anouschka Bernhard’s title holders had to win in order to progress from Group A. Sanders teed up the first, then netted four of her own, including an irresistible late surge into the England area that took out two defenders and the goalkeeper.
UEFA’s technical observers in Iceland drew a comparison to the great German ace Birgit Prinz, while the teenager herself – who turned 17 just before the championship began – introduced her talents as: "I am fast and really dangerous in front of goal – they are my main strengths."
As strong as she is swift, Sanders had opened her account in Germany's earlier 5-0 dismissal of the Icelandic hosts, scoring a bulldozing brace, though it was her aforementioned hat-trick strike against England that she will remember most fondly."Our fourth goal when I was running and the English players were falling over," she remarked to UEFA.com.
That superb individual effort showcased all of Sanders' pace, power and purpose. More than that – since it turned a hopeful ball upfield into another of the fine transitional goals seen at the tournament – it underlined the USP of Sanders and her predatory peers in Iceland, namely Spain's Lucía García (five goals), Switzerland's Géraldine Reuteler (three) and Amira Arfaoui (two) and Norway's Ingrid Kvernvolden (two). As UEFA technical team member Jarmo Matikainen put it: "If you look at those goalscorers, they aren't just goalscorers – they make an impact."
She would be denied, however, in her semi-final duel with Switzerland keeper Nadja Furrer as Germany's bid for a fifth WU17 gong faltered. Even so, Sanders, who came into the finals having notched twice in her first eight senior appearances for Bremen as they gained promotion to the Frauen-Bundesliga, now intends to make a difference in Germany’s top tier in 2015/16. She says he wants to "play maybe one day in the Germany A team and to play a good role in the women's Bundesliga" – and on this evidence anything is possible.
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