In a tournament that marked the first delegation of entirely “homegrown” players to represent Israel in international lacrosse competition, the Ashkelon under-17 youth team took third place in the inaugural ISB Dragons Youth Lacrosse Challenge in Belgrade, Serbia, last weekend.
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Moran Joffe (five goals, one assist), Adi Comarov (five goals) and Yotam Drori (four goals, one assist) led Ashkelon to a 3-2 record in the tournament, including a big victory over the host ISB Dragons; Daniel Obreja (240:00, 16 GA, 3-2) played the entire tournament in goal for Ashkelon.
The Ashkelon club, which is coached by Israel men’s national team players Seth Mahler and Matthew Cherry, features mostly athletes who have only been playing the sport for six to eight months, but have progressed their skills quickly in preparation for international competition.
After being overwhelmed in the opener 8-1 by Helvetia (Switzerland), which went on to finish with a perfect 5-0 record, Ashkelon recorded two straight victories. The Israelis first beat the Dragons 5-2 and then bested the Sofia Ninjas of Bulgaria 3-1. The Dragons bit Israel back 3-2 in the semifinal, but Ashkelon went out in style with a 7-2 defeat of the Ninjas in the third-place game on Sunday.
The new Belgrade tournament, hosted by Serbia Lacrosse at the International School of Belgrade, was launched to provide a competitive environment that will allow newcomers to experience lacrosse and understand the dynamics of the game. The European Lacrosse Federation officially sanctioned the event.
The weekend abroad was more than just lacrosse for the young Israelis, who had Shabbat dinner at Chabad Lubavitch of Serbia, and took an educational tour of the city of Belgrade and the historic Kalemegdan Fortress.