After its remarkable run in Pool B, 3 matches, 3 wins, the French Women’s Team faces Wales in the semi-final. A solid team, ranked 2 places ahead of France in the world ranking, that France had met 3 times in preparation matches last January in Antibes (1 defeat, 1 draw and 1 victory).
Les Bleues regained their blue jersey and got two good chances from the start (2 ‘) that were missed by a hair … But on their first attack built, the Welsh got a PC (6th) shot just next to Mathilde Pétriaux’s goal.
The French are intelligently spinning the ball and the mastery of the game is equalized. Another opportunity for Tessa Schubert, who is once again blocked by the opposing defense (14 ‘). France took the game in hand and would have deserved to lead in scoring at the end of this first quarter.
Wales attack the second quarter with a PC well stopped by the French goalkeeper (16 ‘). Then a second in the 18 ‘, poorly combined by Welsh now installed in the French camp. France reacts on unconverted PC at the 19 ‘.
Exclusion on a green card from Albane Garrot at 22 ‘without consequence for the Blue. A new PC (23 ‘) on the counter allows France to create a new opportunity. France pushes and dominates this end of half-time, without succeeding in scoring this first goal, however well deserved… Half-time (0-0) .
After a period of observation; is France, which is the net shot suitable Julie Brachet to 34 ‘ . A fair reward for very enterprising and well organized Scarf Coach players. The Blue reinforce their defense and engage in counter-attack against the Welsh who play their all-out.
And it is Emma Van der Zanden who concretizes a second time with a shot between the legs of the opposing goalkeeper (41 ‘) . Inès Lardeur takes the game in hand and directs her team from her position of “old-fashioned center-half”. A nice French shot punctuates this 3rd quarter time largely to the advantage of the Blue.
On a 48 ‘CP, France succeeds in their combination but misses the target. The opportunities are linked and it is the Welsh who convert a PC at 48 ‘(2/1) . Galvanized by this success, they multiply the attacks but come up against a good French defense. No question of weakening at the start of the ” money time “.
Coach Foulard gives voice to encourage and position French players. Julie Brachet, alone against the goalkeeper, obtains a PC (53 ‘) blocked by the Welsh. The tension is extreme, ” Come on the Blues, the supporters are there »Echoed in the stands of the stadium when the 2 Welsh CPs were released in quick succession.
The 2 teams do not give up and the fight is intense. 58 ‘, a Welsh PC is again countered by the blue defense. Same sanction at the 59 ‘but fortunately badly negotiated by the Welsh. France just has to savor this magnificent victory which opens the doors to the final against Belarus, which they have already beaten by 2 goals to 1 in a group match.
Emma Ponthieu, captain of the France team : “ We are very happy . We see that there are people who follow us on the networks and that makes us very happy. We had several objectives which evolved with the advance in the competition: Top 5, top 4 then top 2. Now we are aiming for the first place. We deserve our victories. We feel great physically and we play well. We meet the objectives one by one. A year ago, no one would have believed this result, even us.
This result opens doors for us. This top 5 takes us to Rome next October (Qualifying tournament for the 2022 World Cup). This will make us play against good teams in Rome. In 1 year, we will have a tournament for the EHC 2023. We will meet, in theory, less strong teams. The top 2 does not grant a direct rise or fall this year so we had no pressure. We played the matches for us!
In Prague, during a European Championship II, we had incredible supporters. At home we will have a huge excitement and that will help us for Paris 2024 so I hope that a club can organize a tournament in France! What a pleasure to see the support behind us. For French hockey, we need this tournament ”.
Gaël Foulard, coach of the French team : “ We had a fiery first half with a crazy team spirit. We have the best defense in the tournament. Physically, we have the best level in this European Championship. The girls had an incredible pace. Our goal is achieved. The girls put on a huge performance.
With the old method, we would have already gone up to Elite. We went from CE III to I directly. We went up with Lithuania and the latter lost everything with a big score. Work pays! I am thinking of Yohan’s work and the work of the entire staff… of my assistant Nicolas in Carole. It’s the work of a whole staff, what harmony.
We had our best half against Wales (see The first half). Mentally it’s not easy to deal with when you’re an outsider and you’re leading 2-0. The girls blew me away. This is the 7th youngest team in the tournament and the 5th in the number of selections. We are the 3rd youngest and most inexperienced team. What maturity.
We will play tomorrow to win. We have an incredible atmosphere, an incredible dynamic. All the lights are green for the rest