Junior Women refin Gold and access D1A
Towards a fitness trail
Since its elite run in 2016, the U18 French women's team had tumbled to the third highest level in the world, Division 1B. Last year in Poland, the "Bleuettes" had failed a return march in D1A, thwarted by Denmark. At the beginning of the year 2019, young French hockey players had this time in Dumfries, Scotland. And as at the 2018 Worlds, the team coached by Bertrand Pousse has created a final for the last day, chaining first four wins in four games, four victories without appeal.
The "Bleuettes" first atomized China 7-0 (leading 5-0 in the first third time!) With 4 points scored by Manon Le Scodan, a chamonix who celebrated his 14 years on December 25 (!), and 3 points by Elise Lombard. At home, the British have not had more success, beaten by France 3-0. And Poland (4-0) and the Netherlands (3-0) have not had a say! The record was then perfect for France: first place in the group, 4 wins, 17 goals scored ... and none cashed!
The iron defense, including Lucie Quarto with a goal an assist and rewarded as the best player of the match against Poland, so made fury around the goalies, Justine Crousy Theode and Sabrina Roger, author of two and one laundry, respectively a common white game.
A final as a last
He remained, however, a last obstacle. After Denmark in 2017, it was another opponent from the north that had to be beaten to reach the elevator: Norway. The Norwegians still had a poor performance during the week: a shootout loss to Great Britain. This meant that France, in a very favorable ballot, needed only one point to get the promotion.
And the tricolores got off to a good start in the first half, in the 13th minute, thanks to a new goal from Manon Le Scodan. A goal that will prove valuable since the Norwegians will fight for a long time to equalize, despite the French penalties. At the end of the second half, Bertrand Pousse's daughters would have had to manage a five-minute numerical inferiority, which was fortunately well negotiated. The minutes passed, and the gold seemed to reach the young French women.
The "nothing is never played in advance" is implacably obvious. Janne Salmela, Norway's coach, then called for a time-out in the 55th minute. A paying speech since Stine Kjellesvik will equalize ... seven seconds after taking words from her coach! Then Mia Isdahl will leave her cage for an additional field player. The last minutes are clenching in the blue camp. Finally, the Bleuettes and their goalkeeper Justine Crousy Theode will hold on to snatch the necessary point, France wins its World Cup before the overtime.
The virgin extension and the penalty shoot-out finally won by the Norwegians will not spoil the party. During their Scottish week, the Bleuettes finished undefeated in regulation time and took the gold medal. Next year they will return to Division 1A and the top 14 U18 women's hockey, a level more in line with the ambitions of French women's hockey.
If France has scored 18 goals with scoring more Manon Le Scodan, we can only congratulate the defensive play applied to the blue house (including our Lucie Quarto # 7) and a cage brilliantly held by the holder Justine Crousy Théode ( 98.3% in 4 games), already present at the 2018 Worlds in Poland, and his substitute Sabrina Roger, still eligible next year. They have even been close to a feat: never in the history of Women's World U18, all divisions together, a team has finished the tournament without taking a goal. This record, France held for 294 minutes 43 seconds, before giving a piece to Norway. It will have missed 5 minutes 17 seconds to achieve an unprecedented feat at the World U18 Women, this "tournament laundering". No matter, we will be satisfied with this well deserved rise!
1. France 13 pts / 2. Norway 12 pts / 3. Great Britain 9 pts / 4. Poland 8 pts / 5. China 3 pts / 6. Netherlands 0
#7 Lucie Quarto