The Israel Lacrosse Association finished two major international tournaments this August: the 2015 Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s U19 World Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland and the 2015 European Lacrosse Federation Lacrosse Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Israel women’s division finished fourth overall in Prague while the Israel youth division that competed internationally for the first time finished last in the Scotland tournament.
“We had a difficult time putting together our team, but the 17 girls who competed in Scotland have amazing spirits and learned so much about the game of lacrosse, teamwork, how to deal with adversity and what it means to represent their country,” said Emily Brodsky, one of the coaches for the U19 team and a player in the women’s division. “We had not played a real lacrosse game [together] against another team before our first game in the World Cup.”
Despite a last-place finish, the players in the youth division have kept their heads high and are proud to have represented Israel. Although most of the team consisted of girls from Israel, several players from Baltimore joined them.
Genna Portner, 17, from McDonogh School, said she was nervous about traveling with girls she barely knew, but despite the language barrier the Israelis welcomed their American counterparts warmly. Jenna Baverman, 18, from Roland Park Country School, said she relished the opportunity to represent Israel on the field.
“We knew coming into it that many people would not be supporting Israel or us playing in the tournament, but it didn’t stop my teammates and me from loving the experience,” said Baverman. “After the opening ceremony, playing in our first official game together, getting goosebumps while singing ‘Hatikvah’ and then contributing to Israel Lacrosse, it was worth it all.”
As the games progressed the team enjoyed the opportunity to compete rather than focus on the outcome of any one game.
“It was about just having fun compared to the intensity and importance winning is given in competitive lacrosse in the United States,” said Portner. “Although we didn’t win any games in Scotland, after every game it seemed like we did. Our team would dance, sing and walk off the field smiling after not scoring a single goal.”
Lilly Pollak, 17, from The Hill School (in Pennsylvania) credits Israel’s coaches Brodsky and Hannah Deoul for bringing the team together.
“They had to make a whole team for an international tournament in less than a year and with girls who had never played the sport before,” said Pollak. “I admire them and all the other coaches for doing what they did because it was no easy task.”
Deoul said that during the course of the competition, Israeli players became known for their spirit, love, kindness and pride for the opportunity to play.
When Brodsky and Deoul finished in Scotland they immediately flew to Prague for their own tournament in the European championships, which ran from Aug 8. to Aug 15.
“As a player on Israel’s women’s team we [were] serious contenders for the gold medal. This [was] completely opposite from the position that we were in at the World Cup,” said Brodsky. “Being the coach of a team from a country with a developing lacrosse program has given me a ton of perspective and respect for the teams that I am currently competing against as a player.”
Although the women’s team demonstrably did better in ranking than the girls, Brodsky said she hopes they walked away with a similar reputation.
Said Brodsky, “I want our women’s team to be remembered for the same things the U19 players are remembered for: spirit, energy, compassion and hard work.”