ASHKELON, ISRAEL — The Israel Lacrosse Association has named Bill Beroza as head coach of the men’s national team which will compete at the quadrennial FIL World Championships, held in Manchester, England in July of 2018. Mike Horowitz, Jeff Schwartz, and Eric Wolf have been named as assistant coaches for the World Team.
Beroza, who is a member of both the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, returns to the Israel sideline after leading the blue-and-white to a 7th-place finish in their first-ever appearance at the 2014 World Games. The 60-year-old native of Hempstead, NY, played at Roanoke College before playing professionally with the Detroit Turbos and new York Saints, and winning three gold medals with Team USA. Beroza served as an assistant coach for the Americans in 1998, and coached Long Island Lacrosse Club for six seasons, winning three championships.
“We are delighted to announce that Bill will again serve as head coach of our Men’s National Team,” said Israel Lacrosse executive board member Howard Borkan, who serves as General Manager for the Men’s World Team. “His unwavering commitment to our mission, along with his deep experience and knowledge of the game give him the ability to lead our team to new heights. We are equally excited about the three young men who have been selected to join Bill’s staff. Mike, Jeff and Eric have not only proven their lacrosse prowess but have demonstrated their strong dedication and support our vision to make lacrosse the national sport of Israel.”
Horowitz, a former standout goalkeeper at Muhlenberg College, takes over Israel’s defense. Horowitz is currently in his third year as an assistant coach on the Saint Joseph’s men’s lacrosse staff. Throughout his coaching career at three different schools he has helped produce an All-American goalkeeper, a Defensive Player of the Year, a multitude of All-Conference defenders and face-off specialists. Last year his players earned eight Defensive Player of the Week honors in one season. Under his direction, SJU’s goalkeeper group combined for the lowest single-season goals against average in program history (7.83), led the nation in man-down defense (.800) for two consecutive years and ranked in the top 15 in scoring defense, and caused turnovers per game. A former player for both Israel’s field and box teams, Horowitz recently served as an assistant coach for the Israel’s U-19 World Team which finished 6th at last summer’s FIL U-19 World Championships.
Schwartz, a Lynchburg College graduate, joins Israel’s World Team staff following an astounding run as head coach of the blue-and-white which culminated with a Silver medal finish at last summer’s European Championships. The medal was Israel’s first. As a player, Schwartz was team captain in his Junior and Senior seasons at Lynchburg, earning 2011 All-State Second Team, the 2011 All Old Dominion Athletic Conference First Team and the 2012 All-ODAC Second Team. He finished his stellar career as a faceoff specialist, winning 59% of his attempts at the ‘X’. His outstanding senior performance earned him the highest career winning faceoff percentage in Lynchburg’s history – a record he still holds. Following graduation, Schwartz returned to his alma mater as a Graduate Assistant and helped guide the Hornets to an NCAA quarterfinal appearance in 2013. Schwartz relocated to Israel as a participant in the Masa Israel Journey program during the summer of 2015 and has coached Haifa LC in the Israel Premier Lacrosse League for two seasons. He has also served as a Program Director for Israel Lacrosse, spearheading the development of both inter-scholastic and after school youth programs.
Wolf, who was a member of the Israel coaching staff in 2014, will lead the blue-and-white’s offense for the first time. A graduate of Albany, where he won three America East championships and appeared in the NCAA tournament three times, Wolf currently serves as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator for Harvard University. He previously served as offensive coordinator at his alma mater for four seasons, where he boasted the nation’s highest scoring offense for three seasons. Albany set new Division I records under his watch in goals, assists and points in 2015, while the 2013 and 2014 squads were also in the top 10. The Great Danes won the America East Tournament in each of his three years to reach the NCAA tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2014 and 2015. Wolf coached a pair of Tewaaraton winners at Albany — the Thompson brothers — who shared the award in 2014 after ranking first and second in points in NCAA history. One player repeated as the Tewaaraton winner in 2015, and graduated as the NCAA’s all-time leader in points and assists. In addition to coaching Team Israel in 2014, Wolf served as head coach for Tel Aviv LC in the Israel Premier Lacrosse League in 2015, and has been instrumental in the development of youth lacrosse throughout the country.
“Our expectations are high for this team,” explained Beroza. “Especially with this staff, I’m confident we can make a great showing to represent Israel on the world stage and improve on our finish from the last World Championship in Denver. What you have to understand though, is our mission, our goal from the beginning of Israel Lacrosse was to develop young players in Israel. As we continue to recruit, teach, train and create new lacrosse talent in Israel you will see more Israeli-born players on our team in 2018 and that number will increase each year. Although we want to finish high, we also want to ensure that we stick to the goals of our organization, by growing the sport in Israel.”
With the rapid growth of the sport in-country, an extremely competitive tryout is anticipated.
“Our programs have developed new players throughout the country and we are thankful to every member of the international lacrosse community who has helped support the process whether financially or by hands-on participation with our youth,” added Beroza. “For example, the IPLL brings players from Germany, Turkey, England, Canada, America, and even Uganda who work daily with the kids in the summer. It’s very exciting to see the interest and quality of play continually improving in Israel and that process will provide us with an expanded player pool.”
But Beroza elaborated that playing for Israel Lacrosse is about more than pure skill.
“I’ve been involved in organized sports since I was 13 and I’ve always found chemistry to correlate with success — both between the players and coaches. So when we discuss an athlete, I also think about my coaching staff and how they blend with our style and strategy. To determine the right players, we will use the following criteria to get the best balance of young men. First, commitment to Israel Lacrosse and our goals; second, attitude and effort on the field; and third, lacrosse skills and production. We will spend time weighing these factors, in that order, to ensure we have the right men as opposed to the most skilled players. More than anything, we believe we need men on the team who are committed to Israel Lacrosse and have a team first attitude. We will put a strong emphasis on character as we form this team.”
Israel Lacrosse expects to announce an extended lacrosse operations staff and support staff for the Championship in 2017.