Polish hosts looking to Start on front foot at women’s Challenge I

Posted On 15/02/2023

Brussels, Belgium 15th February: Poland’s KS Hokej Start Brezeziny brings the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Club Challenge I to Skierniewice this coming weekend with eight clubs battling for glory.
The host club is multiple Polish champions, both indoors and outdoors and they combine young power supported by some experienced players.
The majority have some level of international experience for Poland at events like the 2018 indoor World Cup in Berlin and the EuroHockey  Under-21 indoor championships.
Anna Gabara, their first goalie, used to play for MOP Dames in the Netherlands safe and Monika Polewczak came back to the club from Bundesliga club, GTHGC Hamburg last year.
In preparation, they have also traveled to Hamburg at the beginning of the year for games and they look forward to hosting in Skierniewice for the very first time, as participants but also as a host.
Four club members played in January’s EuroHockey Junior Championship in Lucerne: Oliwia Krychniak, Zuzanna Rubacha, Anastazja Szot, and Magalena Pabiniak.
They are in Pool A with Denmark’s Copenhagen, Slovenia’s HK Moraske Toplice, and Sweden’s Partille.
The Slovenian side is mostly new players with five teenagers as well as some older experienced players, ranging from age 15 to 49. They retained their national title recently.
This is their fifth Challenge I campaign having finished in fifth place in 2018 as their best outing to date.
Copenhagen Hockey Club was founded in 1904 and is, therefore, the oldest club in Scandinavia. Among their key players is Katja Christensen who has been with the club since youth level and is in terrific form at the moment. She currently leads the top scorer list in the Danish League.
Megan Holt Jonasson is originally from the US and married the coach Jesper Jonasson five years ago. She is a hard-working midfielder.
Team captain Caroline Mourier is the elder of two sisters – Mathilde is the younger one – playing in the team. Despite her young age, she is already a very experienced player both on the club team and on the national team for Denmark.
The two sisters’ parents found each other at a young age through the Copenhagen hockey community. Their father is now Chairman of the club and plays on the Danish Masters national team together with his brother.
Partille’s women’s team has been playing hockey together for a really long time. They went to their first EuroHockey Cup in 2013 and have played every year since, except for the Covid gap. Some have played every year since.
To prepare for the EuroHockey Challenge, their key preparations included the Mason Cup in Denmark this January.
Captain Sofia Blomgren said: “The red Swedish army is looking for some really good hockey and to have some fun after a few “not so fun” hockey years, because of Covid.”
Pool B is populated by Italy’s HF Lorenzoni Bra, Portugal’s Lisbon Casuals, Georgia’s Ukimerioni Kutaisi, and Lithuania’s Šiauliai Ginstrekte ŠSG.
Lorenzoni Bra is a team from north Italy, founded in 1967, with a long history of success: 17 outdoor championships; 22 indoor championships, 10 Italian Cups, and 3 Super Coppa Italiana.
Remarkably, they have won 12 of the last 14 indoor championships and were also one of the clubs to play in the first women’s EuroHockey Indoor Club Cup in 1990.
The team that will take part in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Challenge I in Poland is a very young team but very cohesive and well supported by some players of experience such as the captain Elena Carletti and the goalkeeper Alina Fadieieva who recently got the bronze medal at the Eurohockey Indoor Championship in Hamburg with her teammate in HF Lorenzoni Katya Kasianova and the Ukrainian National Team.
They will come up against Šiauliai in the group stages, looking to avenge their 3-1 defeat from 2020 in the Trophy.
The Lithuanian side will feature a range of teenagers in their line-up for a third successive Challenge I campaign. They were fifth in 2021 in Prague and then third in Rakovnik last year.
Ukimerioni Kutaisi is playing in their fifth European competition; their best performance was in 2020 when they finished fourth in Porto in Challenge I; in 2022, they were seventh in Croatia. Former Türkiye international Leyla Öztürk is one of the players with international know-how in their panel.
Lisbon Casuals recently reclaimed their Portugal national title and are contesting their sixth Challenge I campaign since 2014, finishing between fourth and sixth place each time.
Lisbon took the laurels in the Portugal women’s final with two consecutive successes over GD Viso. The final is decided over a best-of-three format with Lisbon winning the first game 4-3 and the next 4-2 to see them celebrate their seventh national title with Cláudia Fidalgo winning the best player award.
Fidalgo was also named player of the tournament at the 2022 Challenge I in Croatia. Her side defeated their Georgian group rivals 9-4 in that tournament.
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