Be’er Sheva Lacrosse had a flair for the dramatic on Wednesday night, as the “Speed of the Negev” prevailed over Haifa in a thrilling Israel Lacrosse Premier League championship game at Wolfson Fields in Tel Aviv.
Player of the Game Daniel Leventhal scored six goals, including the game winner at 30 seconds of overtime, while Ian Kadish was dominant from the faceoff X and added five goals for Be’er Sheva (6-1), which eked out an 11-10 overtime triumph.
The upstart lacrosse community in the south was the only team to defeat Haifa in the regular season, taking a 5-4 win in a defensive battle on opening night.
Be’er Sheva came in confident, snagging early 1-0 and 3-1 leads. Haifa battled back to notch the game at 5-5 at the end of the third quarter, before taking its first lead of the evening on a pair of Noah Miller goals with just over 10 minutes left. The teams traded goals through the waning minutes, with Haifa holding a 9-8 lead with under two minutes to play. Seth Mahler’s score at 1:47 remaining seemed to be the nail in the coffin, but Kadish answered back with consecutive faceoff wins and scores to stun Haifa and spectators.
After another Kadish faceoff win to open overtime, Leventhal would be the hero on a low shot at 30 seconds of the extra period.
Jeff Handman (30:00, 10 saves, 2 GA) and Jake Reiner (30:30, 7 saves, 8 GA) split time in goal, with Reiner collecting the victory.
Miller led Haifa with four goals, while Joshua Bernstein, showing no wear and tear from an impressive showing in the U-19 World Championships in Vancouver, chipped in three goals in relief for Yochanan Katz, who left the game in the first quarter.
Eric Fischer (30:00, 4 saves, 3 GA) and Andrew Landsman (30:30, 8 saves, 8 GA) split time in goal; Landsman was dealt the loss.
Be’er Sheva reached the final by going on an eight-goal burst in the first half of its semifinal contest to handily defeat Ashkelon 14-7 at Be’er Sheva Sports Center on Monday.
Be’er Sheva jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the opening minutes, but Ashkelon answered back with three straight goals to take a 3-2 advantage. It would be Ashkelon’s only lead of the evening, as Be’er Sheva’s eight-goal run would give the team the lead for good.
Brett Hackel (four goals, one assist) was named Player of the Game, while Ian Kadish (four goals, two assists) and Micah Stalarow (three goals) also chipped in. Jeff Handman (30:00, 3 saves, 4 GA) and Jake Reiner (30:00, 4 saves, 3 GA) split time in goal; Handman was credited the win.
Caleb Brodie and Drew Saltzman led Ashkelon with two goals each.
Haifa also eased into the final by defusing Kiryat Gat’s late-season spark with an 11-3 romp at Kiryat Gat Synthetic on Sunday.
Haifa’s defense continued to dominate, as the team has surrendered just 15 goals all season (2.5 goals against per game). Eric Fischer (30:00, 4 saves, 3 GA) and Andrew Landsman (30:00, 5 saves, 0 GA) split time in goal; Fischer was credited the win.
Kiryat Gat actually drew first blood at 1:54 on a goal from Alex Irizarry, but Haifa scored five times to take a 5-1 advantage after the first quarter.
Noah Miller was named Player of the Game for his four goal, one assist performance, while Aaron Feinberg added a hat-trick.
Mitch Turley (one goal, one assist) and Ian Mills (one goal) joined Kiryat Gat (1-6) on the score sheet. Dan Kaufman (60:00, 13 saves, 11 GA) was excellent in goal despite the loss.