Austria, Ukraine, Türkiye and the Czech Republic hold the advantage in the chase for semi-final places following day one of the women’s EuroHockey Indoor U21 Championship in Lucerne.
On a day of ups, downs and a lot of crowd noise at the Maihof Halle, Austria look most likely to advance from Pool A after two big wins. Switzerland had the initial high from beating Italy but a 5-2 loss to Ukraine leaves them under pressure.
In Pool B, Türkiye and the Czech Republic are level on four points with an equal goal difference following their draw early in the day. Poland can still catch them having beaten Croatia 3-0 and so there is still plenty to play for.
The group stages conclude with Czech Republic facing Croatia (09.00 CET), Türkiye playing Poland (10.15), Ukraine facing Italy (11.30) and Austria against Switzerland (12.45).
** All of Saturday’s games will be broadcast live on www.eurohockeytv.org with commentary from Nick Irvine.
Ukraine 0 Austria 3 (K Proksch 2, J Czech)
A trio of Austrian penalty corner goals in the second half saw them outdo a very young Ukraine side, giving them an early impetus in Pool A.
The first half was incredibly tight with Anastasiia Shyshyna proving a pivotal player. Her mazy run almost created the opening goal but Austria began to control more and more of the ball as time went on.
They went in front in the second half from a clever slip move, Joanna Czech passing to Katharina Proksch who swept home. For long periods, they looked more likely to score again and it arrived in the closing moments with Proksch and Czech adding corner goals in the last two minutes.
Switzerland 1 (P Appel) Italy 0
An 11th minute goal from Paulina Appel sent a packed house at the Maihof Halle wild as the local Lucerne hero scored from the penalty spot. It came following a Nele Pöhler shot which hit a body on the goal line.
It proved the only strike as Italy – in their third appearance in the top tier – fought hard and had a series of late chances but were not able to breakthrough the defences of Tanja Landtwing in the Swiss goal.
Austria 9 (K Proksch 3, A Minar 2, J Czech, K Bauer, I Klausbruckner, L Kern) Italy 1 (C di Bella)
Austria took a big step toward the semi-finals with a big win over Italy, under-pinned by a fast start in which 17-year-old Katharina Proksch scored a hat trick.
She had them one ahead in the first minute which was soon backed up by a Joanna Czech penalty corner strike. Two more Proksch goals either side of an effort from Isabella Klausbruckner made it 5-0 at half-time.
Katharina Bauer and Laura Kern extended the lead to 7-0 at the end of Q3 and Amelie Minar scored two in the final quarter to make it 9-0. Chiara di Bella got one back for Italy in the 38th minute.
Switzerland 2 (P Appel, N Pöhler) Ukraine 5 (V Vlasenko 2, D Shertsiuk, V Mochan, V Korobinka)
Ukraine produced a brilliant close to the day as they scored three times in the last 12 minutes to get their first win of the competition and sit second overnight in Pool A.
Vitalina Vlasenko was the match winner, twice finishing off from excellent passes from Anastasiia Shyshyna as they pulled away after a very tight fixture.
The Swiss hosts fought back twice with Paulina Appel’s corner and a sharp finish from Nele Pöhler made it 2-2, cancelling efforts from Daria Shertsiuk and Veronika Movchan.
Ukraine were grateful to goalkeeper Iryna Melezhyk who saved a penalty stroke at that stage and they look advantage of the let off when Shyshyna found form. She drove around the right to set up Vlasenko for 3-2. Thirty seconds later, Veronika Korobinka made it 4-2 and Vlasenko ended the scoring in the 34th minute.
Poland 3 (M Drozda, O Krychniak, N Dejneka) Croatia 0
Poland got their campaign started with a confident 3-0 win over Croatia who had their moments in what was their first ever top tier Under-21 match.
After a scoreless first quarter in which Eva Litvić went closest for the newcomers, Poland moved in front in the second quarter in the 18th minute. It came from their second corner, a top corner rocket from Maria Drozda.
And they got the extra buffer just before the end of the third quarter when Oliwia Krychniak finished off a lovely flowing move along the left boards. Natalia Dejneka completed the win with a late corner flick for 3-0.
Czech Republic 2 (N Hajková, K Kopećka) Türikiye 2 (P Gülcan 2)
Kamila Kopećka scored a late equaliser as the Czech Republic and Türkiye played out a high quality battle to open their weekend’s action.
Merve Aslan inspired the first goal with a driving run through the middle which broke to Gülca Paksoy to finish off in the third minute. The Czechs levelled when an interception in the circle fell to Natálie Hajková who finished calmly.
Aslan hit the post from a rasping corner shot and so it stayed 1-1 through to the closing six minutes when Türkiye returned to the front. Aslan was again crucial, picking a brilliant long pass to Paksoy who flicked under her arm to make it 2-1.
But the Czechs fought back once more and earned their point with 90 seconds remaining from a penalty corner move, Kopećka deflecting in a pass down the right channel.
Türikiye 4 (M Aslan 3, S Kurt) Croatia 1 (V Kuharić)
Merve Aslan’s superb hat trick powered Türkiye to a big win to put them firmly in the frame for the semi-finals.
She put her side in front in the eighth minute with a piece of individual skill, breaking out from left back to run the length of the pitch and finish off at the far end. Aslan then followed up to add another from the right edge of the circle for a strong 2-0 half-time lead.
Türkiye, though, were not able to capitalise further on their healthy lead and were caught off guard with three minutes to go when Vita Kuharić deflected in a ball into the circle.
But Aslan quickly shut down hopes of a comeback with a corner goal and then Sude Nur Kurt completed the win in the closing minute.
Poland 1 (N Dejneka) Czech Republic 4 (K Kopecká 2, K Topinkova, L Duchková)
The Czech Republic moved level with Poland at the top of Pool B as they beat Poland 4-1 in the fourth game of the day in this group with Kamila Kopecká netting twice.
Her first came from a strong run before tricking the Polish goalkeeper with an early shot behind her back for 1-0. Katerina Topinkova got the second when her penalty corner shot made it over the line and Kopecká got a third before half-time when she picked up a loose clearance and scored.
The pick of the goals came from Lucie Duchková, a long run out of defence completed by a cool finish. In between, Rozárie Mrázová made some key saves while Poland finished strong with Natalia Dejneka slotting a late consolation goal.