15 December 2013

The morning 5th place game offered two completely different halves. The first one featured only Norwegian goals, the second one was under Latvian control. The Baltic players defended fiercely and relied on fast breakaways and the excellent goalie Visnevska. The Norwegians worked very hard for every goal and in the second half of the game they were unable to convert their chances. They opened several gaps in their defence and that was decisive.

Norway started the game more actively and Visnevska had to show a great save in the 2nd minute already. On the other hand, the first Latvian chance came as late as in the 6th minute. And when Diana Isjomina appeared alone in front of the goalie Holt and didn't score, the Norwegians punished their opponents' poor finishing. Kristine Naess scored from Elisabeth Torp's pass.

Another interesting spell of the match came between the 14th and 16th minute. First, Norway wasted two great opportunities in the 14th minute, but third time they succeeded and Marianne Nadim increased the lead to 2:0. In the 16th minute players on both sides hit the post and with 24 seconds left in the opening period the Latvians wasted yet another clear opportunity. Early in the second period Lena Sundvik made use of a Latvian blunder at the centre of the court and after two quick passes she increased the lead to 3:0. But then the Norwegians were followed by bad luck and started wasting clear goal-scoring opportunities. And thus at 33:00 Edite Bankava started the Latvian pursuit. And shortly before the end of the second period Luize Bilinska hit the crossbar.

In the third period the image of the game didn't change. Norwegian players tried to control the ball, but their pressure was toothless. So, after quick plays in the 9th and 17th minute Latvia tied the score. What is more, in the 18th minute Edite Bankava appeared alone in the crease and wasted her opportunity to punish Charlotte Holt's mistake and send the ball into the empty net. The match, therefore, went into extra time.

Norwegian players were apparently more nervous, but it seemed we would witness a penalty shoot-out for the first time in the tournament. However, Edite Bankava was against this. With 22 seconds left in the extra time she sent a perfect pass to Liga Garklava and started Latvian celebrations.

“We don't know what happened in the second half of the game,” the Norwegian captain Anette Berg said after the match with tears in her eyes (full video here). “We played good games against the top 4 teams and we can only regret today's failure,” the Norwegian coach Patric Jonsson added (interview here). On the other hand, the Latvian Baiba Jurusa was excited: “We wanted to show we have what it takes to win. We tried to block as many shots as possible and we were successful,” she evaluated the last game at her ninth World Championships (full interview here).