St. Gallen, Switzerland, May 4, The A-Division in the 2018 IFF U19 Women’s Floorball World Championships reached its conclusion as Sweden U19 breezed into the last-four as Group A winners after comfortably seeing off fellow qualifiers, the Czech Republic, who finished runners-up. Norway U19 ensured a third-place finish in Group A going into the classification ties, after brushing aside Germany U19 5:0 in Friday’s early encounter.
Group B leaders and semi-final qualified Finland U19 made sure they finished top of the pile after victory over Slovakia sent them through to the semi-finals with a 100% record, condemning the Slovaks to a seventh place classification tie to try to stave off relegation to the B-Division, but one of the stories of the day came right at the end, as Poland put in a spirited performance to stun hosts Switzerland and go through with Finland as runners-up.
A-Division Group A (10:00 CET): Norway U19 5:0 Germany U19
Norway U19 finished a difficult Group A campaign on a high note in the early encounter as they eased aside a disappointed German side 5:0, with Rikke Ingebrigtsli Hansen hitting a hat-trick. The rich score-line was just reward for the Norwegians’ hard work and endeavour in attack and defence, Hansen’s opener the only goal separating the teams at the first interval, with Germany continually frustrated by the fine form of Norway goalkeeper Christine Mejbo. German heads dropped after an own goal five minutes after the restart gave Norway a two-goal cushion, and from there the Scandinavians tightened their grip on proceedings, Hansen’s two further strikes sandwiching a Celine Ripel finish over the final two thirds of the match as Norway comfortably saw out the tie for a first win of the 2018 tournament. Norway finish in third place in Group A, and will contest for a fifth place finish in the classification ties over the weekend, with Germany now unable to finish above seventh.
“It feels really good to finally get off the mark after two tough opening games”, Norway MVP Marie Wolf said after the match. “We knew this was an important yet much more winnable game and I think we had a lot more fire and desire in our game today”.
“It gives us so much confidence now going into the classification game. We really want to end our tournament on a high by winning and finishing fifth.”
A-Division Group A (13:00 CET): Sweden U19 13:2 Czech Republic U19
This match was billed as a potential thriller in Group A as both sides, having already sealed semi-final spots, battled it out to finish top of the group. However, World Number One seeds Sweden put pain to any hope of a close encounter, MVP Amanda Ljunggren scoring once and assisting twice as the Swedes lead 4:0 at the first interval. By the 24th minute it was 6:0, the Czechs finally getting on the scoresheet on 25 minutes through Nikol Pekárková. Two quick Swedish goals in reply ensured no momentum dissipated, however, the score 9:1 approaching the final third. After two more Swedish goals, there was a lengthy stoppage for an injury, before play resumed and Lucie Cholinska snuck a consolation back. The Swedes weren’t done though, Frida Swahn and Alicia Svensson clocking up a further two goals to complete a 13:2 rout of their nearest group rivals.
“We’re a strong team with a lot of strong players, so it makes it a norm for us getting wins as big as this”, MVP Ljunggren said after the match. “We have a lot of confidence going into the semi-finals, and we can count on having our fans behind us too. We feel they’re the best supporters in the world”.
A-Division Group B (16:00 CET): Finland U19 6:1 Slovakia U19
A 6:1 score-line suggests one-way traffic, but Finland were forced to work hard to break down a stubborn Slovakia side who came into the game knowing anything but a win would put the last-four out of reach. World Number Two seed Finland eventually began to stamp their authority on affairs midway through the first period, Salla Ranta and MVP Jenna Taivaloja opening a 2:0 lead up going into the break. Finland stumbled somewhat over the second period, Michaela Zikavska halving the deficit after Anniina Levalampi was given her marching orders for a two-minute penalty, but the Finns snatched another goal right on the cusp of the second interval to halt any gathering Slovak momentum, before a Levalampi double and Elli Kylmaluoma strike in the final third put the gloss on an impressive win. Czech Republic lie in wait for them in the semi-finals.
“I’m really happy that we got the win and that we’re going to the semi-finals unbeaten”, Finnish MVP Taivaloja said after the match. “I think this was definitely our most complete performance so far and it gives us so much confidence going forward. We believe we can beat anybody and I think we can go on and win the gold medal here, for sure”.
A-Division Group B (19:00 CET): Switzerland U19 2:5 Poland U19
Following Slovakia’s defeat to the Finns, Switzerland knew that victory would guarantee a place in the last-four, whilst Poland had all but to avoid defeat to advance to the semi-finals from the A-Division themselves. In a packed and hostile atmosphere, Poland set about going one better, delivering their most complete performance of their campaign so far to stun the hosts and go through with a 5:2 win. Joanna Szelzchen’s double in the first period set the visitors on their way, Switzerland seemingly stuttering before the majority home crowd, but the touch paper was lit just before the break when Deborah Frei halved the deficit going into the interval, then in the second period the normally reliable Nicole Capatt took the responsibility of a penalty shot to draw the hosts level. When goalkeeper Magdalena Michaliszyn refused to be drawn off her line, Capatt blazed high over the goal and the visitors were off the hook. Poland then made the Swiss pay for their profligacy, Dominika Buczek restoring her side’s two-goal cushion heading into the final third. An Anna Osmala double either side of Ronja Bichsel’s reply for Switzerland put the game out of sight, and there was even the leeway for Polish MVP Szelzchen to miscue a penalty of her own right at the end, but it didn’t matter. Poland were through, a semi-final date with Sweden the prize.
“I am elated that we’re through to the semi-finals”, Szelzchen said after the match. “Switzerland are such a strong team and we had to play really well to win tonight, and it was really hard in such a hostile ambiance, but we focussed, defended well, took our chances and got the win. The fans were amazing as well.”
“We’re improving with every game, and I think this is important going into the next match. We’re playing a very strong team in Sweden, of course, but we’re so confident after tonight and we believe. We’re going to give it our best shot and try to go as far as we can”.
U19WFC 04.05.2018 NOR - GER
U19WFC 04.05.2018 SWE - CZE
U19WFC 04.05.2018 FIN - SVK
U19WFC 04.05.2018 SUI - POL