Ma’aleh Adumim escaped another challenge from newcomer Katamon to remain undefeated in Israel Netball last week.
Ma’aleh Adumim, which came into the April 4 match 7-0, withstood a second-half challenge in late December, when Katamon rallied from 12 down, to lose 31-28. This time, host Katamon never let the match get out of hand, losing by only two points. A first-year team staffed mainly by teenaged rookies, Katamon also held Ma’aleh Adumim to its second-lowest point total of the season, with a final score of 21-19.
After Ma’aleh Adumim opened with a 6-2 lead, Katamon fought back to within two points at halftime. Katamon also ended the favorites’ 11-quarter run of not being outscored by their opponents, taking the period 8-6.
However, Ma’aleh Adumim proved too talented and experienced to let the lead slip away entirely, which is why the team is head and shoulders above the rest of the league, 13 points ahead in the standings. Tel Aviv, which has one game in hand, is second.
"We were happy to walk away with the win," Alexi Schapiro, player-coach for Ma'aleh Adumim, told Haaretz on Thursday. "It's great to see the young players coming through and challenging and making the games more interesting."
Katamon player-coach Racheli Komar-Aziz, who commutes from Be'er Sheva to work with the team, said her players were happy despite the loss because "they felt they beat their own goals."
What makes the team special is that almost all the players have been playing together in school for the past four or five years and are closely bonded, she said, adding: "They know they don't have the experience, but they have the spirit and the willpower."
In another match last Thursday, Tel Aviv let Modi'in back into the game in the third quarter but pulled away with a 37-25 victory.
Tel Aviv was leading 15-5 at halftime before host Modi'in outscored the visitors 13-8 in the third period, but Modi'in ran out of gas as Tel Aviv poured on an impressive offensive display down the stretch. The result opened the gap between second-place Tel Aviv, which now has 27 points, and third-place Modi'in, which has 21 points.