Israel Women's National Lacrosse Team Advances to European Championships Semis

Team to face top-ranked England on Friday after dispatching fourth-ranked Germany in quarterfinals.

Megan Meluskey
Israel's national lacrosse women's team.
Israel's national lacrosse women's team.Credit: Josef Štěpán
Megan Meluskey

NYMBURK, Czech Republic — The Israel women’s national lacrosse team dispatched fourth-ranked Germany, 10-5, at Sportovní Centrum on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the 2015 European Championships.

The win was the first-ever in a quarterfinal playoff game for any Israeli lacrosse program; the blue-and-white failed to progress past the round-of-eight in the 2012 Men’s European Championships (Loss to Netherlands), the 2013 Women’s World Cup (Loss to Canada) and the 2014 Men’s World Championships (Loss to England).

Israel makes its first-ever semifinal appearance against No. 1-ranked England on Friday.

Courtney Miller and Amanda Tuck have led a tremendously balanced offense for the undefeated Israelis; 11 different players have scored goals.

England hasn’t lost to a European opponent since 2008. The top-ranked team in Europe has rolled its competition so far, dispatching Czech Republic, Finland, Norway and Ireland by a combined score of 74-7.

Friday’s semifinal is the first-ever meeting between Israel and England.

Early in the first half, Team Israel was presented with the challenge of getting the ball past Germany’s excellent goalkeeper, Britta Goldenstein. Goldenstein came up with save after save for the Germans, forcing the Israelis to execute good shot placement and to wait for the perfect look.

However, once the Israelis began to play smarter and harder, they were able to confidently put the ball in the back of the net. Courtney Miller (four goals, two assists) and Amanda Tuck (three goals, three assists) led Israel offensively, while Jessica Rothstein (two goals), Kimberly Dubansky (one goal, one assist), Sarah Meisenberg (one assist), Halsey Diakow (one assist) also chipped in.

Unfortunately, no lead of less than 10 goals is ever comfortable in the fast-moving and momentum changing game of lacrosse. Therefore, Israel decided to run a challenging stall play as the Germans pressured hard all the way through to the final whistle.

Julia Szafman (60:00, 4 saves, 5 GA) earned the win in goal for the blue-and-white.

Israeli defender Hannah Epstein played a key role in Wednesday’s game, coming up with multiple interceptions during transition.

Israel outplayed an athletic Dutch squad 18-3 on Sunday to secure its quarterfinal berth.

As the Israelis took the field in their final regular pool game of the tournament, they wanted to make a strong statement about lacrosse in Israel and Israel’s future as competitors in international lacrosse.

The scoring was opened early on after the opening draw. Although Israel lost the first draw to the Dutch, the team’s strong and disciplined defense allowed it to cause the Netherlands their first turnover of the game. After the ball was lost by Israel’s opponents in orange near the restraining line, Leah Sherman scooped up the lose ball and darted off to her goal to open the scoring for the Israelis. The goal was Sherman’s first of three against the Netherlands.

Sunday’s goals were scored by Courtney Miller (4), Amanda Tuck (4), Hannah Deoul, Jessica Rothstein (2), Halsy Diakow (2), Sophia Rosetti and Kimberly Dubansky. The assists were added by Sarah Meisenberg, Sarah Greenberg, Diakow (2), Rothstein (2) and Dubansky.

Julia Szafman (60:00, 2 saves, 3 GA) earned the win in goal.

Israel’s road to the quarterfinals, besides the triumph over the Dutch, included a 9-9 draw against Wales last Thursday and a 12-8 defeat of Italy on Friday.

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