21st January 2017: A mixed afternoon of highs and lows as we entered the ‘business end of the competition. One team will face automatic relegation from here in Vienna for 2019, so the Pool C is now a battle to survive in this division. First up was Turkey v hosts Austria and Austria found their form in this game with a 3-1 win over Turkey. Poland also secured their place in the division with a win over  a tired Italian team, 3-0. Czech Republic lined out against Switzerland in the first semi-final and had a comprehensive win over a tired Swiss side. In the final game of the day Belarus v Russia in which Belarus dominated and well earned their place v Czech in the Final tomorrow. 

Round up:

Match 13: Turkey v Austria 1-3  (1-1) 

Turkey opened the scoring via a solo run from Meryem OYMAK, who ran the length of the pitch and beat the keeper in a one on one! Austria replied via a direct pc strike from Johanna BUCHLEITNER. And so it remained at the half. In the second half both teams worked hard to find the winner and to be sure to remain in this division in 2019. A pretty feisty affair with a number of cards being shown, in the end Austria played the better hockey and were rewarded with a goal in the 25th minute via a well worked corner as  Marta LAGINJA was slipped the ball and was on target. Turkey were frustrated in the closing minutes of the game, the went for a power play but conceded a further goal. Final score 1-3.

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Match 14: Italy v Poland 0-3 (0-1) 

A tired start to the game from both teams as at lot of energy had been expended in their earlier games. Poland were happy to outlet from the back and hold onto possession. Paulina REDER scored in the 19th minute for Poland to give them the lead going into the break.

Again Poland were happy to be patient and wait for a break, whilst Italy worked hard to find a gap in the Polish defence. Poland’s second was scored into an open net, as Italy had resorted to a power-play to find the equaliser. Straight from the restart, Skoraszewska put the game beyond doubt in favour of Poland. Final score 0-3.

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Match 15: Semi-Final 1 – Czech Republic v Switzerland (1-0) 3-0 

A cagey start to our first semi-final here in Vienna. A beautiful combination between Lucie SANKOVÁ and the scorer Michaela KUČEROVÁ put Poland ahead in the 15th minute. Score remained 1-0 at the break. 2 fantastic, identical drag flicks from Nikol BABICKÁ put Czech 3 ahead early in the second half and Switzerland, who had a tough game earlier to get to the semi-final, looked down and out of the game. Czech had the chance to seal the game with a penalty stroke but it was missed by Kolarova, the score leading into the last 2 minutes remained 3-0. Switzerland opted for the power-play to claw back the score, but Czech’s no.10 Adéla KOŽÍŠKOVÁ was particularly excellent in the sweeper position. A delighted Team Czech took no time in celebrating their 3rd ever EuroHockey Indoor Junior Final!

Speaking to the Czech captain after the game Veronika NOVAKOVA she said “For us it is most important to be in the final and to win a medal!” We reminded her about their silver medal 4 years ago, she said “Yes I remember I was there and I was so young! Now I am the oldest in the team.” She added that she just loves indoor hockey. Speaking about her team she was full of praise “They are so young, I am so very happy that they are not afraid to try new things. For sure they will be a very good team in 2 years time.”

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Match 16: Semi-Final 2 – Belarus v Russia 

The second semi-final started in a very lively fashion with Belarus catching the Russian’s off guard as Raiskaya scored from play in the first minute. They doubled their lead via captain FILIPOVICH after a cheeky steal by SURIANINOVA  who laid it off for FlIPOVICH to score. She was on the scoreboard again in the 17th minute with a rocket from a corner. Russia scored on the break via Sartakova just before the break. But Belarus weren’t done yet! and almost on the halftime hooter they scored another excellent pc, this tim via BELAVUSAVA. 4-1 at halftime.

A patient start to the second half as both teams settled into the pace of the game and defended well. Tsaborova scores early in the 2nd half to put Belarus four goals ahead, an attack this time from the left side of the D. Russia, never giving up hope scored again via Sartakova, but Belarus dominated the second and scoring at will it seemed were 7-2 up with 10 minutes still remaining. The final score of 11-2 was a fair result for a very dominant team.

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Photograph: Belarus celebrate their historic win! (Frank Uijlenbroek (c))