NM gold the reward for a tough season for Avaldsnes and Elise Thorsnes
Credit: Jan Kåre Ness/NTB scanpix

NM gold the reward for a tough season for Avaldsnes and Elise Thorsnes

Norwegian international relishes the added pressure that comes with the captaincy

Sophie Lawson

When Elise Thorsnes stroked the ball past Michelle Betos and into the far corner five minutes into Avaldsnes NM final tie against Vålerenga, the red half of the Telenor erupted for their 29-year-old captain.

In their third NM final and yet to lift the Norwegian Pokal, Avaldsnes had taken a giant stride towards the elusive gold. Though the chances came and went for both teams, it was the team from the East who were left celebrating at the whistle, Thorsnes’ lone goal the decider.

She said: “It’s always special to score the winning goal and I have scored in a cup final before but scoring the winning goal for a team that hasn’t won anything yet and as captain, I’m lucky to lift the cup after the match.

Shifting from one foot to the other, visibly tired after a long 90 minutes that saw her take a whack to her right foot near the end of the match, Thorsnes has slowly made her way through the throng of reporters keen to talk to the woman of the hour.

The smile unwavering from her face through each laborious interview, the NM trophy held firmly in her grasp throughout, with a laugh she admitted the silver cylinder isn’t going anywhere and that, “It’s going to stay in my arms the whole night.

Silverware, at long last

The perennial bridesmaids to LSK’s blushing and all-conquering bride, Avaldsnes have been on an upwards trajectory since the team reformed in 2002, rising to Toppserien for the first time in 2013.

Their first year in the top flight brought about their first cup final appearance, the side losing 1-0 to Stabæk. From 2015, the side from Karmøy, has been second in the table, falling short of LSK for three season’s running, the current champions the second Oslo team to deny them by a goal in the cup final.

A third successive second-placed finish to LSK, set Avaldsnes up for their third NM final appearance and yet another Oslo-based club in the final, Vålerenga one of the few Norwegian teams to have vanquished LSK in recent years.

Though Avaldsnes once again fell short of LSK, the cup final win made the season all worthwhile for the experienced captain. 

Of course, I thought this year would be the year that we beat LSK and finish top but this year has been the year that we finished 11 points behind them, so that’s not good," Thorsnes added.

"But they weren’t in the cup final, we were, and now we have one gold and one silver for the year and we should be pretty happy with the season.

A proud day

Rising to the occasion and leading from the front, Thorsnes has been instrumental for Avaldsnes all season, the armband around her bicep drawing out some of her best and most mature form.

You have to take more responsibility and I felt a lot more pressure today then I’ve ever felt but it’s good for me because it keeps me sharp," she admitted.

"When I could lift this Pokal, everything is worth it. It’s been a tough season for us but finally we have this gold medal so it means a lot.

There is no rest for the attacker, who has been an ever-present for both Avaldsnes and Norway all year, the 29-year-old allowed just one day to recover after the final before jetting off to join up with last season’s regular season champions, Canberra United.

“I’m off to Australia to play in the W-League for three months so for me it’s no rest, I hope I have some good experiences there,” she revealed.

Best known for her goals and intelligence in the final third, 2017 has seen Thorsnes retreat to cover the vacant left-back role for Norway, her pace and stamina offering the Football Girls another dimension.

Although, with a wry smile, Thorsnes admits she’d much rather be further up the pitch.

I always say, I play where the coach wants me, it’s better to play than sit on the bench, but it’s not my favourite position but it’s better to play than not play.