Belarus produced a late twist in the tail to win the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships for the very first time as they beat the Netherlands in a final shoot-out.
They had already eliminated reigning champions Germany in the semi-final but they looked to be underdogs against the Dutch after a 4-1 group stage defeat.
And they fell behind in the eighth minute to a Lisa Post finish. But that was the only goal to accrue until just a few seconds from the final hooter when HC Minsk’s Maryna Nikitsina got on the end of a smart move down the left boards.
She was among a group of five Minsk players – Maryna Navitskaya, Nastassia Syrayezhka, Krestina Papkova and Yauheniya Filipovich the other ones – who will also be in the running to play in the EHL FINAL8 this summer.
Belarus then went on to win the shoot-out 4-3 in the sixth round of the competition, Nikitsina – the joint tournament top scorer – again popping up with the winning goal after Veranika Mikanovich kept out the final Dutch effort for a famous success.
It was Belarus’s first ever Euro final and it adds to their bronze medal wins in 2008 and 2012.
AH&BC Amsterdam’s Noor de Baat was named Under-21 player of the tournament.