Be’er Sheva LC became the first-ever team to secure back-to-back Israel Premier Lacrosse League titles after prevailing 13-9 in the 2017 championship game against Ashkelon LC last Thursday night at Wolfson Fields.
Lane Kadish got the action going for Be’er Sheva just 10 seconds in, scoring off a faceoff win on a feed from team captain Eric Fischer.
The two teams traded goals through the first quarter, with the score deadlocked 3-3 after 15 minutes.
The “Speed of the Negev” revved up the engines from there, with three straight goals to open the second frame. Be’er Sheva led 6-3 and never trailed from that point forward.
Ashkelon worked hard to claw its way back into the game in the second half. Bryan Rotatori and Jarett Greben scored back-to-back goals to open the third quarter, trimming the deficit to 7-6.
However, Be’er Sheva scored six of the next seven goals to open a 13-7 advantage.
Rotatori and Gradinger scored late goals to answer back for Ashkelon, but Be’er Sheva was able to run out the remaining six-plus minutes before celebrating in front of goaltender Payton Fales’ crease.
Wales men’s national team member Sam Miles – who earlier in the night was honored as the first-ever faceoff specialist to be named to the IPLL’s “All-Israel” team for his performance this season with Be’er Sheva – was awarded the league’s MVP trophy following the final after winning 18-of-20 draws.
Tom Carver led Be’er Sheva offensively with four goals, while Kadish (two goals, two assists), Aaron Rubenstein (two goals, one assist), Josh Schwall (two goals) and Marc Skolnick (two goals) also contributed. Fischer (one goal, five assists) was the playmaker of the evening.
Fales (60:00, 14 saves, 9 GA) had a big night in goal for Be’er Sheva.
Rotatori (four goals) and Greben (three goals, one assist) led Ashkelon.
Earlier last Thursday, Ted Bergman made 16 saves and Alex Rabin scored five goals and two assists as Haifa topped Sderot 10-5, to claim third place.
Josh Krutowsky (three goals) and Dan Applebaum (two goals, two assists) led a balanced Barak Netanya offensive effort as the Bolts surprised Herzliya 10-6, to secure fifth place.
Clayton Boam (three goals) and Spencer Rotenberg (two goals, one assist) led Kiryat Gat to their first win – an 8-4 triumph over Ashdod – to win open play in the seventh-place match on Tuesday.
Be’er Sheva’s Fischer and Fales were named Epoch Offensive Player of the Week and El Al Defensive Player of the Week, respectively, for their performances in the IPLL playoffs.
Fischer – a natural goaltender who made 18 saves against England in the final of the 2016 European Championships – has been playing offense for Be’er Sheva, to give the team more depth on their opponents’ side of the field. The experiment has worked: the Binghamton alumnus finished the 2017 season seventh in scoring, helping the team win back-to-back IPLL titles.
Fales’ proficiency between the pipes allowed Fischer to compete as a runner. The 20-year-old goaltender, who plays NCAA ball at Colby College, went save-for-save with Haifa LC goaltender Ted Bergman in the semifinals, finishing with 10 saves and 9 goals against. Fales preserved his best performance for the IPLL Championship Game, making 14 saves against Ashkelon to earn his sixth win of the season. Fales had a 57.1 percent save percentage in the playoffs.
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