The irony is that, with Moscow Pravda drawing their final match 2-2 against host side Wels, a victory for the Scots would have leapfrogged them into second spot over the Russians and gained the passport to the elite championship tournament next year.
Manager Elaine Macara summed up the mood of the camp: "We`re gutted. The silver medal and promotion was certainly achievable. We played well enough, but just couldn`t put the ball in the net when we needed to.
"Maybe our expectations were too low. A couple of extra legs with experience would have helped. But the crucial fact is that we failed to beat the Austrians and the Russians, and so they`re the ones who go up."
It started to go wrong in first half when Louise Lebaindre opened the scoring for Lille in 12 minutes. But the Scots took the game by the scruff of the neck after the interval. Within six minutes of the restart, Helen Walker equalised with a low shot at a penalty corner, and this signalled an onslaught on the French goal.
Kareena Marshall`s set-piece shot rattled the bar. Catriona Semple`s volley hit a post. And the normally so reliable Walker failed from the penalty spot as Western went all out for the winner. Even in the final two seconds, Walker had a chance to seal the crucial three points, but she failed to find the net from close range.
Macara said: "We totally dominated the game against Lille, but missed so many chances. I counted no fewer than twelve opportunities to break the deadlock in the second half. It`s unbelievable. Any other day we would have won the match hands down."
But Western put themselves under pressure when they failed to polish off Moscow Pravda on Saturday evening, leading 3-2 with two penalty corner strikes from Kareena Marshall and a reverse stick volley by Catriona Semple, Alexandra Zhashkova was allowed to equalise from the set-piece, leaving the Russians that vital point in front going into Sunday`s final encounters.
So it is the Austrians and the Russians who progress to the A Division for next year. Newly-crowned Scottish champions Bonagrass Grove will have to do it all again in the lower league.
– but the sailors praise the new boats
Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo
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