Israel’s netball squad finished strong in the Europe Open Challenge, scoring 36 goals in a loss to Bermuda at the end of a trying tournament played in Aberdeen, Scotland this past weekend.
Israel’s Nomi Komar was named Most Valuable Player.
“Because they don’t play on Shabbat, they had to play three games in 24 hours, a tough challenge for any team in the world,” Israel Netball’s Judy Aknin told Haaretz.
“Perhaps the most important point is that Nomi, who played goal attack for most of the time, won MVP for the second year running,” she noted. “Last year, when she won in Newcastle, it was the first time that anyone had received a unanimous vote for the award.”
With netball still a developing sport in Israel, the team faced uphill battles against Gibraltar, Bermuda and Ireland. In the first match, Israel managed eight points in the first quarter, but yielded 20 to Gibraltar. A more quiet second quarter put Israel down 31-11 at the half. Gibraltar kept up the same pace in the second half to claim a 61-20 victory.
Israel met a similar fate against Bermuda in Game 2, falling increasingly behind with every quarter. Offensively, Israel did best in the middle periods, but its defense could not contain the Bermudans, who closed out with a 19-5 run to win 70-28.
Indeed, the toughest opponent was Ireland, which overwhelmed the Israelis 23-2 in the first quarter. Ireland then kept up a similar pace the rest of the way, knocking Israel off 83-11.
Despite the setbacks, Israel held its own against Bermuda in its final match. Bermuda reeled off the first three goals of the game, but Komar got Israel back into the match, netting the ball after Israel mounted an attack from the base line. Israel quickly scored again and threatened to tie the match, but the team was penalized and Bermuda scored on its next possession. Bermuda went on to build a 16-8 lead by the end of the period.
The second period proved to be the Israelis’ best of the tournament, as they played even and went into the halftime break still down just eight at 26-18. Israel then netted the first three goals of the second half, and showed promise of a rally as another pair of goals narrowed Bermuda’s lead to 28-24. However, they failed to capitalize on their next opportunity, and Bermuda began to rebuild its lead, upping it to 39-28 by the end of the third period. Bermuda then kept Israel from rallying again in the fourth quarter, ending it at 50-36.