TURKU, FINLAND — Israel will compete in the finals of the European Box Lacrosse Championships tonight, when they take on Czech Republic at 8:00 PM local / 8:00 PM Israel / 1:00 PM ET at Gatorade Center.
Both the Czechs and the Israelis enter the game with flawless 5-0 records.
The only prior meeting in Championship play was a 13-12 nailbiter win for Israel in the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. That victory put Israel into the semifinals and the Bronze Medal game.
However, athletes from the two programs know each other well, competing regularly at joint-training events and annual club tournaments in Czech Republic and upstate New York.
Tonight’s final is an intriguing one as the two teams have very different styles of play. The Czech program has a rich box lacrosse history, and the national team is talented, experienced and fundamentally sound. The Israelis have a handful of players with a lifetime of box lacrosse experience, but their roster is stacked with athletic players who are rooted with field lacrosse backgrounds. The Olympic-sized playing surface may favor the blue-and-white.
Jean-Luc Chetner (20 goals, 15 assists), Kyle Bergman (14 goals, 11 assists) and Adam Wolf (12 goals, 12 assists) are pacing Israel’s offense.
Goaltender Zachary Higgins has an 83% save percentage and has anchored an Israeli defense that has allowed just 22 scores in five games.
On Friday, Israel dispatched host Finland, 11-6, in front of a raucous semifinal crowd at Gatorade Center. The Israelis jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed. The Finns cut the deficit to 9-6 in the third quarter, but were held scoreless for the final 17 minutes of the game. Chetner led Israel with five goals and two assists.
In the Quarterfinals, the Israelis paced past #5 world ranked England, 13-8. The blue-and-white jumped out to a 6-1 lead but the English cut the score to 6-4 at the half. The match was closely contested throughout. Bergman (four goals, two assists) and Chetner (four goals, one assist) led the Israelis.
The gold medal game will be streamed live at www.fanseat.com (free one-month trial subscription).
Sat, Jul 8 – Israel 24, Turkey 0
Sun, Jul 9 – Israel 19, Serbia 1
Mon, Jul 10 – Israel 18, Ireland 7
Thu, Jul 11 – Israel 13, England 8 (Quarterfinals)
Fri, Jul 12 – Israel 11, Finland 6 (Semifinals)
Sat, Jul 13 at 8:00 PM – Israel vs. Czech Republic (Gold Medal Match)