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U19 WFC 2018 A-Division: Day 1 – 02.05.2018

St.Gallen, Switzerland, May 2, 2018- The leading trio in the IFF U19 Women’s World Rankings, composing of Scandinavian giants Sweden and Finland, plus IFF Women’s U19 World Floorball Championships 2018 host-nation Switzerland, are prepared to open their A-Division campaigns in St. Gallen, all hopeful of achieving a spot in the semi-finals to be played out on May 5.

Six-time champions Sweden U19 will look to get off to a strong start against newly promoted Germany U19 in A-Division Group A, before World Number Four and Five, Czech Republic U19 and Norway U19 respectively, will take to the court in search of an all-important opening victory, the Czechs determined to right the wrongs of their previous outing in this tournament when they fell short of a podium finish.

In A-Division Group B, World Number Two Finland U19 take on Poland U19 looking to stamp their authority on the competition, before Switzerland U19 endeavour to wow the local spectatorship in their encounter with Slovakia U19, certain to be buoyed by a raucous home crowd.

A-Division, Group A (10:00 CET): Germany U19 0:29 Sweden U19

MVP Wilma Johansson was the shining star for World Number One seed Sweden U19, who opened their account in the 2018 tournament by giving A-Division newcomers Germany U19 a baptism of fire in their Group A opener, dominating proceedings in a comprehensive 29:0 shutout. Johansson clocked up four goals and eight assists in an academic victory, whilst teammate Ellen Bäckstedt notched seven goals and three assists as the Scandinavians controlled proceedings throughout the three periods. Sweden are likely to face tougher examinations than this if they are to go on to win the title, but they will enjoy this early victory having laid down a real marker of their gold medal credentials in St. Gallen. ‘It felt great playing here in Switzerland in front of our travelling fans and getting the win in our first match’, MVP Johansson said after the match. ‘We want to win gold, that is our ambition, so it was important for us to get off to a positive start here’.

A-Division, Group A (13:00 CET): Czech Republic U19 9:0 Norway U19

The second A-Division Group A game of the day was a clash between World Number Four and World Number Five in the IFF World Rankings respectively, as the Czech Republic entertained Norway. And it was the fourth-placed Czechs, determined to make amends for missing out on the podium last time out in this competition, who made the early headway, MVP Lenka Faltusová’s brace helping them into a 5:0 lead by the first interval. It was a controlled performance over the following two periods by the Czechs as they tightened their grip on the match, Barbora Husková chipping in with three further goals as the Czech Republic eventually ran out comfortable 9:0 winners.

Despite keeping a clean sheet in an impressive opening outing, MVP Faltusová insisted after the match that she and her teammates still had to give nothing short of their best to come out on top. ‘It was difficult, despite the scoreline looking convincing’, Faltusová said. ‘Norway are a strong team and we had to play well in what was one of the biggest games in our lives to get the result, and we have so many positives to take. We want to finish with a medal, for sure, and we must continue like this if we are to achieve that’.

A-Division, Group B (16:00 CET): Poland U19 0:7 Finland U19

This match was a classic case of good things coming to those who wait. Finland U19 had to show real patience against a Poland U19 side that matched them for pace and intensity over the opening two periods, the World Number Two seed also being let off the hook by the officials at one point after a goal-line appeal early in the second period from Poland was found wanting, despite the Polish contingent of the 421-strong crowd crying for a goal. A slick build-up five minutes before the 40 minute interval eventually shattered Poland’s resistance, and from there the spirited underdogs tired against their seasoned opponents, the Finns’ clinching a decisive second before the break. Annu Selinummi’s first-time rasper of a strike just after the break made it 3:0 on 47 minutes to set the tone for the final third, the Scandinavians now picking apart their opponents to run out comfortable 7:0 winners, arguably a flattering scoreline based on the opening two periods.

‘We are very happy with this first win but it was really tough’, Finnish MVP Jasmiina Järvinen said post-match. ‘We had to really match their speed to stay in the game, but once we got that first goal I think we started to find a way through them more regularly and had a lot more fun out there.’

‘We want to win the tournament, and it’s good to have a test like this soon because it makes sure we take every game seriously and motivate ourselves against any team’

A-Division, Group B (19:00 CET): Slovakia U19 vs Switzerland U19 

A topsy-turvy encounter, fittingly the most entertaining game of the day in front of a partisan home crowd eventually yielded a share of the spoils for either side. Both of the first periods ended all square, Slovakia U19 taking an early lead in the first through Kristína Mlíchová after her side were twice denied by the frame of the goal, before Deborah Frei struck a fine equaliser from range before the first break. Switzerland took the lead twice in the second third through Carola Kuhn and Nicole Capatt, only to be pegged back by the Slovakians on each occasion thanks to strikes from Barbora Gáborová and Slovak MVP Kristína Belicová, the score 3:3 going into the final twenty minutes in a nervy encounter. The tension in the crowd was obvious, and both teams had enough chances to win it, the woodwork and heroics from Slovak goalkeeper Pavlína Farulová denying Switzerland before Slovakia fired wide twice late on, neither side able to force a late winner and having to share the honours.

‘I think playing at home in front of such a big and loud crowd we were really nervous,’ Swiss MVP Lara Wüthrich said after the match. ‘But we can take the positives into the next games and want to make our fans proud by going as far as we can in this tournament’.

‘It’s a great result for us too’, explained Slovakia MVP Kristína Belicová. ‘We really had to dig deep, focus to block out the atmosphere and defend at times, but our fans really helped us, as well as our coach who was giving us instructions from the sidelines all through the game. We are happy with the draw and will take it into the next games. We don’t want to think about the podium yet. We are focussed only on the next game’.

Original article here.
Matches, highlights and post-match interviews here.
Photos here.