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U19 WFC 2018 A-Division: Day 2 – 03.05.2018

Another eventful floorball day took place in Athletik Zentrum in St.Gallen, Switzerland.

Following a convincing open day victory World Number One Sweden put in another professional performance to ease aside local rivals Norway in the A-Division Group A Scandinavian Derby in St. Gallen. Sweden are now certain of a semi-final place after their two wins, and will face a group winner deciding match on Friday against the Czech Republic, the latter sealing their own progression from Group A after an 8:2 win over Germany. Winless Norway and Germany face each other on Friday to round-off their respective group campaigns, before proceeding to the placement ties to determine their overall fate.

Meanwhile, Poland U19 edged out Slovakia U19 in a 5:4 thriller in Group B to stay in contention for an A-Division semi-final place going into the final round of group matches where they play Switzerland. The hosts and World Number Two Finland take to the court in the evening fixture (19:00 CET), the Finns search of a second win in as many days which would seal a semi-final berth tonight.

A-Division Group A (10:00 CET): Sweden U19 14:2 Norway U19

Sweden entertained Norway in the early A-Division match in St. Gallen, but despite the game being a derby occasion, there was no doubt where the win was heading as early as the first third, the Swedes wasting no time in getting to work on their neighbours’ rearguard. Taking a 3:0 lead in the first period, they’d doubled their lead in the second period by the time Norway even got onto the scoresheet. But all that the Norwegians could manage, the team at the summit of the IFF World Rankings seemed to be able to do better, the girls in yellow powering toward a 10:1 lead by the second interval. Wilma Johansson tapped in after the break for 11:1, their 40th goal in a mere two matches, before Norway pulled one back in reply. Sweden weren’t finished though, scoring straight from the restart and notching another two in quick succession, Johansson rounding off the rout with a tap-in from Backstedt’s pass. This Sweden team has two wins in as many days thus sure of a place in the last-four, scoring 43 goals and conceding just twice to sit proudly atop Group A, and look a terrifying prospect for any team going forward in the A-Division.

“Yes, we do score a lot of goals, but it is still tough since many teams are strong”, Sweden MVP Alicia Svensson (one goal, three assists) said after the match. “We have to play at our best to get wins like this, and it makes it more fun when we work hard to get these results.”

“We have a lot of pace in attack and some great shooters in the team, which is why I think we score so many goals, but we can’t get complacent. There are other good teams in this tournament who we may meet later on, so we have to play as well as we can to achieve our ambition”.

A-Division Group A (13:00 CET): Germany U19 2:8 Czech Republic U19

Czech Republic U19 became the second team to qualify for the semi-finals from A-Division Group A, after a hardworking performance was rewarded with an 8:2 win over luckless Germany U19, Czech MVP Barbora Husková the catalyst, clocking up two goals and two assists to ease her country through. Husková’s brace got the Czech party bus rolling, the World Number Four seed coasting into a 4:0 lead by the first interval, before snatching a fifth just after the restart. Germany U19 found brief respite, pulling back two quick-fire goals to make the score 5:2 going into the final third, but Husková came up trumps twice more, teeing up Eliska Plankova and Michaela Kubeckova either side of a strike by Kristina Otcovska for an 8:2 final score.

“We had to be patient today to start with and be really alert in defence, but once we got a cushion it got a little easier for us”, MVP Husková said afterwards. “It feels good to have two wins from two and it gives us optimism going into the semi-finals now we are guaranteed a spot”.

“Of course we play Sweden next to decide who wins the group. They are one of the best teams in the world of course, but we have good players of our own, especially going forward, and if we bring our best game, I’m sure we can surprise them”.

A-Division Group B (16:00 CET): Slovakia U19 4:5 Poland U19

Poland U19 bounced back from their opening day defeat against Finland U19 to keep their dreams of a semi-final spot alive in the A-Division, withstanding a late Slovak siege to cling onto a 5:4 victory and give themselves a chance of progression going into their final Group B game with Switzerland. Having withstood early pressure, Jutrzenka Cirocka fired Poland ahead against the run of play after ten minutes, before they broke away from a Slovakia attack after regaining possession and grabbed a second right on the interval through Anna Osmala. An own goal halved the deficit for Slovakia, before an exchange of goals for either side set the score up at 3:2 in Poland’s favour going into the final third. A further two goals in the final set looked to have Poland in the clear, before two Slovak goals in the closing thirty seconds set up a tense finale, but Poland held on for a crucial win.

“It felt great to have got the win” Poland MVP Dominika Buczek said after the match. “We wanted to bounce back after the first game and we had to work really hard at times. Slovakia pushed us all the way and we really had to defend well to get the result, but I feel like our mistakes made it closer than it should have been at the end”.

“We know this win gives us a chance to reach the semi-finals, but that’s not at the forefront of our minds. Our philosophy is we focus on the next game. Whatever the occasion, whatever the opposition, we give our all to win”.

Poland face the Swiss in their final Group B game, knowing a win will see them through, whilst Slovakia’s hopes of the semi-finals are left hanging by a thread, only a win will be good enough in their final group match against Finland if they are to have any hope of progression.

A-Division Group B (19:00 CET): Switzerland U19 4:5 Finland U19

Hosts Switzerland fell short in front of a buoyant home crowd, as World Number Two Finland edged a thrilling encounter to seal qualification for the A-Division semi-finals from Group B with a game to go. Switzerland face a crunch match with Poland in their final match, the winner likely to progress with the Finns, who started this game brightly with Jenni Torkki’s opener after seven minutes. Carola Kuhn struck a fine equaliser for the hosts, midway through the first period to the delight of the home crowd, but Finland stole the lead seconds before the interval to hold an advantage going into the break. A third in the second period gave Finland a crucial cushion that was cut in half by Nicole Capatt going into the final twenty minutes, before Elina Hautojarvi and Milja Rastas put the game beyond the hosts at 2:5. Switzerland made a game of it with Kuhn and Capatt setting up a granstand finish, but they couldn’t find a leveller as Elsi Kangasharju in the Finnish goal pulled off a superb left handed save at the end to preserve victory.

“We are so happy that we are in the semi-finals”, Finland MVP Jenni Torkki said after the match. “We’ve won two tough games and I think it’s good we’re not having it all our own way at this stage because we’ll be ready for tougher tests to come and be more used to it”.
“We know it gets harder from here, but I’m confident we’re going to go all the way. We really want to get the gold medal”.

Despite falling short, Swiss MVP Andrea Wildermuth was optimistic that her side could still progress to the last-four for a shot at the podium.
“The fans were great tonight and it was good fun out there, so we want to do the best we can and be a winning team for them”, she explained. “But we have to improve. We need to defend better, work on our build-up to create the goals, and I think if we do that we have every chance against Poland to win and hopefully go through”.

Original article: wfch2018.ch
Matches, highlights, post-match interview: IFF YouTube Channel 1
Photos: IFF Flickr