Israeli Women Lacrosse Players Undone by Canada - and Shabbat

National team, playing at World Cup in Canada, misses out on medal and Super Saturday.

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OSHAWA, Canada – It may have been a memorable experience, although not all memories are good ones.

And that’s particularly true in the world of sport.

While they may have made an impact, Israel’s National Women’s lacrosse team is going home without the prize they coveted so badly: a Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) championship.

Funny thing is that Israel, which didn’t have a team the last time the World Cup was played, knew very well going in to this gruesome series of games in a short span of time and that refusing to play on Shabbat – a day set aside to play for the big awards - also meant there was no way the championship hardware would end up in the Jewish State.

The FIL, sympathetic by adjusting preliminary round pool games, would not budge for the decisive playoff series citing existing rules and regulations not allowing for adjustments. So, final positions, from 1 through 8, are up for grabs on Super Saturday – and Israel, with a chance to play a consolation round game, instead won’t be there.

With medals awarded to the top three teams, it would have been nice for an Israeli squad making its inaugural appearance at this event, to go home with something that signified a strong showing - and a team that could be considered as one of the best on the planet.

For Israel, not knowing what to expect from a group of predominantly American-born College players with dual citizenships who gathered to play as a team with only three weeks of preparation, the irony is that despite all the confidence, the impressive records, gutsy efforts and upset wins, it would only go so far.

So, when a highly experienced Canadian squad - playing the host country’s National Summer Sport - crushed Israel 17-5 in a quarterfinal game here on Thursday at Civic Stadium, the loss burst the Israeli balloon.

And it also ended any possible political fallout that may have resulted if Israel was put in a scenario of actually competing for a medal. Now, the best the Israelis (5-2 in pool and playoff games over an eight day period) can finish is sixth - assuming they beat Scotland for a second time. (Israel defeated Scotland 13-6 in a pool game).

Israel gave Canada, supported by a boisterous crowd of several thousand fans, a challenge in the first half of their sudden-death championship series.

The Canucks, up 6-4 after the first of two 40-minute halves, then exploded on offence causing nightmares for goalie Julia Szafman, from West Hartford, Conn. Taking advantage of the Israelis second half flop, was similar to a pattern that showed in the Blue and White’s previous 12-11 overtime loss to Japan.

“I hate losing and right now (the loss to Canada) stings a little,” said Scott Neiss, director of Israel Lacrosse.

“You come to an event like this and want to win every game. I really do think people were surprised at how well the team has played. I’m so proud of what these girls have accomplished.”

Israel made National history beating Germany 15-6 in its opening game with Lauren Dykstra, from Mendham, N.J., scoring the first goal. After the win over Scotland, then crushing South Korea 19-2 and Hong Kong 19-4, Israel’s first loss was to previously unbeaten Japan.

Then things got exciting, when the Israeli’s squeezed by New Zealand 12-9 to force the quarterfinal match-up with Canada.

“Canada has a very talented team and lacrosse has been played in that country a long time,” said Kim Dubansky, a 24-year old from Owings Mills, MD, who also played lacrosse while a student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“Our goal was to finish in the top eight and that’s just fine with me.”

Dubansky, who had two goals in the medal round elimination game, said the Israelis plan was to get to Canada early and try throw the Canadian game plan off a bit.

"It worked for the first 40 minutes, but they just took over,” said Dubansky. “It has been a physically demanding journey – but also the best time of my life.”

Amanda Schwab, from the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, PA, scored in every game for Israel but also praised the Canadian experience and a team stacked with veteran players.

“(Canada) is good and their experience was quite evident,” said the 25-year old Schwab, who played lacrosse while studying at Stanford University. “We competed knowing our culture and our identity was important to all of us.”

Israel defender Katie Mazer tries to get control of lacrosse ball in battle with Canada's Abbey Friend during Federation of International Women's World Cup quarterfinal game, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.Credit: Shawn Muir

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