In our new ongoing series “This is Sarnen” we want to give you the opportunity to follow a Cinderella story for a whole season. Ad Astra Sarnen managed to promote to the NLA last season and is now the big underdog in the elite series of Switzerland.
… begins with heaps of preparation. How could it possibly be different for the NLA- Newcomers? As the underdog and probably with less quality you just need to work harder to earn your respect and your points. “It was clear that every player and staff member needs to evolve to a new level during the season if we want to prove ourselves that we are in the right league. “Says Head- Coach Eetu Vehanen, who also has quite a history back in Finland. Before he joined Ad Astra in 2018, he spent some serious time with the Finnish Elite-Club OLS as a coach and head of Junior coaches. In the last year, he managed to get the men’s OLS to the Cupsemifinals, where Classic won the fight. And all that with just 26 years of age.
Back to the preseason. As the coaching stuff logically expected the jump from NLB to NLA would be a big one, they organized a training camp in Finland. Five days in the big Sport Center in Eerikkilä, the team could grow play wise and spent some important quality time together. It was living like professionals, at least for a few days. In the end, the first test match of the season made clear how tough the season will be. Against the Finnish top team TPS, which is probably comparable to the swiss Top-4, Sarnen lost 12:2.
Also back in Switzerland, the next test matches were not good for their self-esteem: 1:12 against GC, 1:7 against WaSa, and 5:6 against NLB Topteam Floorball Thurgau. “After big losses and low scoring games, our self-confidence was on a big test. We knew that the start of the season would be hard for us, but a lot of injuries made this period extra difficult”, Vehanen says and continues with pride and confidence: “but in the end, we have only one mission and that is to be playing our best game at the end of the season and win our last game of the season. And for that mission, my mind is very positive right now.” At least Ad Astra won the two first cup games without big problems against lower league teams.
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Insecurity at season’s start
Nevertheless, you could feel the insecurity in their first home game in front of a hot crowd and Swiss TV. UHC Uster came to the beautiful canton of Obwalden to participate in the first NLA game of Ad Astra’s history. The ambitioned team from the Zurich area showed from the first second, that NLA- Season started, no more screwing around. After a demonstration of power, Uster won 9:0.
The next day, a good NLB team of Floorball Fribourg waited in the Cup 4th round. Sarnen managed to win this one, but probably closer than the fans wished for. Anyway, after this game, regarding Vehanen, the atmosphere at training got a lot better and you could see that in the second game against Malans, who almost made it to the Superfinal previous season. Even though they lost 7:4, you could see some big steps in the game, which are desperately needed.
The next two opponents are the vice-champion GC Zurich and the current champ Wiler-Ersigen with some serious personnel like Känzig, Bischofsberger, Hofbauer, Bürki, Dudovic, Väänänen, Savonen, and Pylsy.
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What the coach thinks about it
Coach Vehanen stays sharp. “We have a long way to go, but I am 100% sure that together we will take the steps which are needed to play for the win during the season. Against Malans we raised our level to a certain point where we are not in the washing machine in every shift but to be honest, we were still far away from playing for the win.”
“Our main opponent definitely will be Thun. We have some history against them because of the promotion games to NLA and I think our fans are also waiting for those games. The second favorite opponent is naturally Zug. Rich club against small underdog, classical situation.”
Stay tuned and get more info about the NLA results at Swissunihockey.
This article was written by Julian Rueger. If you have questions or remarks, feel free to contact us.