Lucerne awaits women’s EuroHockey Indoor U21 Championship this weekend

Posted On 12/01/2023

The women’s EuroHockey Indoor U21 Championship hits the boards on Friday in Lucerne with Switzerland hosting the competition for the first time.

It has been a long-time coming for these teams with the last edition of the junior Euros taking place in 2019. From that edition, six teams return with runners-up Austria and the Swiss side who won bronze looking to push for even higher on the podium.

Türkiye are aiming for a first ever medal having reached the final four in 2015 and 2019 while Poland, the Czech Republic and Ukraine have all been on the medal rostrum before.

Croatia are the newcomers, competing at this level for the first time with Italy playing in the top tier for just the second time in 32 years.

** All games from the competition will be live streamed via www.eurohockeytv.org with commentary from Nick Irvine. This stream is free of charge for those registered with an account.

** Scores will be posted to the EuroHockey social media accounts while full tournament statistical information is available here: https://tms.fih.ch/competitions/1465

Women’s EuroHockey Indoor U21 Championship – team by team background
Pool A
Austria

Austria come into the competition as the 2019 runners-up and have also landed bronze in both 2015 and 1991. They are the only side to play in all 14 editions of the women’s EuroHockey Indoor U21 Championship.

Johanna Czech and Laura Kern are their two most experienced players, both playing in 2019 aged 16. Czech scored five times in that event, including twice in an 8-4 victory over Ukraine who they meet first in Lucerne.

There, they also beat their upcoming group opponents Switzerland 6-1 in the semi-final while their other group match-up is against Italy who they defeated 2-1 in 2017.

Austria’s U21 women’s side

They come into this event in good form off the back of success at the Rohrmax Cup where they defeated Belgium’s senior team in the final.

Coach Corinna Zerbs said of the tournament: “Last week was a great learning process and it is great to see how well this team works together. We have a great group of girls who have some good indoor skills and are ready and excited to be there for each other. We have spent a lot of time together since last March 2022 and will give it everything we have.

Czech added: “I am very excited for this tournament. We had a good performance in 2019 when we won the silver medal, however, we left the tournament unsatisfied since our goal was to win.

“Due to Covid, we had to wait a long time to play this Championship again, therefore I am thankful that I get another chance to participate at this tournament. We have a great squad where everyone is ready to fight for each other and I am proud to be part of this team.”

Italy
Italy are competing in the top division for a third time having finished fifth in the first edition back in 1991 and then seventh in 2017.

It is a squad for whom many sides are making their first international appearances at this elevated level. Maria Torbol is the exception having lined out for the senior squad in their run to gold in Bratislava in Championship III.

Head coach Filippo Treno was the assistant to the senior panel in Bratislava. His assistant is Martin Chirico who captained the senior indoor side in December and played in the 2018 outdoor World Cup.

The panel is drawn from nine different clubs with CUS Pisa the most represented with Chiara Trafeli, Matilde Piccinocchi and Nina Corradini.

In terms of previous match-ups, they came up against Austria in Pool C in 2017 when they were edged out 2-1.

Ukraine
Ukraine will be hoping to emulate their senior side who landed a famous bronze in Hamburg before Christmas on the European stage. At this age group, their best performance came in 2003 when they won silver and they landed bronze in 2001. They finished eighth in 2019 in what was their first time in the top tier after a 14-year break.

Kateryna Popova is a link to that 2019 team while 19-year-old Anastasiia Shyshyna was in December’s side in Hamburg, playing four of the six matches. The latter is part of Ukraine’s long list for the indoor World Cup which takes place in February as is Anastasiia Voievoda and goalkeeper Iryna Melezhyk.

They have one of the youngest panels in Lucerne with many players aged between 15 and 18 in their wider squad.

Switzerland
Hosts Switzerland are looking to build on their best ever performance in 2019 when they won the bronze medal, taking third place with a 3-0 win over Türkiye. It was their first medal in six attempts having twice finished in fourth place.

The team is captained by Luzerner SC home favourite Paulina Appel while another product of the club – Charline Heselhaus – is a key player. The latter has since moved to play in the Bundesliga with UHC Hamburg.

Both were part of the 2019 bronze aged 16 and 15, respectively, as well as playing for the country’s senior indoor side in the Championship II in January 2022 along with goalkeeper Tanja Landtwing and Nele Pöhler.

Pool B
Croatia

Croatia will be competing in the top tier of the competition for the first time as they hope to make their mark. It follows a fourth place finish when hosting the second tier in 2019 in Sveti Ivan Zelina.

The side is captained by Petra Hrupec who is among a quintet of players with experience from that 2019 edition and she has also lined out at senior level both indoors and outdoors.

Eva Litvić and Ema Bahlen are in a similar boat while Ana Čolić and Lucija Čepo are the others who have know-how of this kind of event. The 16-year-old goalkeeper Tea Andričič also played outdoors for the senior international outdoor side at the European qualifiers. Six of the panel hail from SK Zelina.

Czech Republic
Winners in 2017 – and 1997, the Czech Republic are looking to get back into the medal-mix following a disappointing seventh place finish in 2019.

En route to that 2017 success, they beat this weekend’s group opponents Türkiye 5-4 while they fell 4-1 to Poland in 2019. All told, they have won four medals in the Under-21 Euros overall from their 13 appearances.

They have a number of players who were part of their senior panel in Hamburg in December with goalkeeper Rozárie Mrázová, Lucie Duchková (who scored four goals) and Natálie Hájková (three goals). The likes of Ellen Merxbauerova, Veronika Pribikova, Zuzana Semrádová and Katerina Topinkova are establishing themselves as senior internationals outdoors.

The Czech Republic U21 side

Poland
Poland are two-time winners at this level, taking gold in 2007 and 2013, silver in 2011 and 2015 and bronze in 2005. They hosted the last edition at Tarnowskie Góry where they finished sixth during which they lost to group opponents Türkiye 4-3.

It will be the fourth successive event they meet the Turks having drawn 2-2 in 2017 and won 2-1 in 2015.

The squad is largely drawn from UKS SP5 Swarek Swarzędz from whom Wiktoria Noculak, Jagoda Arciszewska, Patrycja Kosińska, Marta Czujewicz and Maria Drozda hail. Natalia Oleś is based in Belgium with Royal Pingouin in Nivelles.

Türikiye
Türkiye have played in the last four editions of the competition, finishing fourth in 2015 and 2019, and they are looking to try and land their first medal.

They completed their preparations with a final training camp in Amasya and are in confident mood ahead of their campaign with manager Varol Vardar saying: “We have made our final preparations for the journey to Switzerland. We are working well and we are doing everything to become a champion. We are preparing for the championship in an ambitious way.”

Goalkeeper Elif Uysal added: “We plan to represent our country in the best way. Our camp is very good and very enjoyable.”

First up for the Turks is a date with the Czech Republic who they pushed 5-4 in 2017; next they meet Croatia for the first time since 2007 and then they meet Poland whom they beat 2-1 in 2019.

Merve Aslan was part of the senior team who played in the Euros in Hamburg in December while Sudenur Kurt is a rising star – the 17-year-old top-scored at the outdoor Euro Junior Championship III last summer.

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