While the Israel men’s and women’s national teams are all smiles following Sunday’s wins over the Birthright/USA All-Stars at the big game-night in Ashkelon, there are still two games to play with rematches scheduled for Wednesday evening in Tel Aviv.
Israel’s women defeated Team Birthright in a rout, 17-5, while the Israel men edged the All-Stars in an 11-9 thriller.
Wednesday’s women’s rematch is scheduled for 4:30 PM at Nave Golan Sports Center, while the men’s game starts around 6:00 PM. While the game will have less fanfare, the quality of play on the field is expected to be as high and intense as Sunday’s action.
Will the Birthright/USA All-Stars rebound from Sunday?
The Birthright teams were formed under a unique partnership between Israel Lacrosse, Amazing Israel (www.amazingisrael.com) and Taglit-Birthright (www.birthrightisrael.com) to allow 40 collegiate athletes — men and women — to tour the country.
The squads, which are stocked full of talent, are tight-knit after spending every minute of every day together on their 10-day tour, but with only one practice under their belts, both squads came out flat on Sunday, but had big second halfs.
With a little more familiarity with each other on the field, expect the teams to come out firing on all cylinders on Wednesday.
Can Team Israel maintain their momentum?
The Israel women’s national team looked good on Sunday. Really good. As Coach MacDonald’s squad, which is loaded with talent, continues to eye a medal at the upcoming 2015 European Championships, they have an unprecedented focus that will be hard to rattle. What was really on display on Sunday was the blue-and-white’s tremendous depth. All but Israel’s three defenders and goalkeepers cracked the scoresheet on Sunday.
Sunday’s victory for Israel’s men was a big one for the program, which was missing a handful of key stars, but to replicate the effort on Wednesday will be difficult. The blue-and-white are expected to be thin; Sunday’s MVP, Reuven Dressler, is unavailable, Jacob Silberlicht and Matthew Cherry with IDF obligations.
Players to Watch
Birthright/USA All-Stars (women)
Jayme Verman, York – Verman, who led the Birthright women in scoring in 2014, is repeating the feat in 2015; she scored two goals and an assist on Sunday.
Nicole Ortlieb, Fresno State – Ortlieb brings D1 experience to the All-Stars. She scored one goal on Sunday.
JoJo Auerbach, Dickinson – Auerbach made nine saves in Sunday’s second half to keep the All-Stars in the game. She may see limited action with a deep lineup of goaltenders for the Stars, but if she is between the pipes she will anchor the defense.
Israel Women’s National Team
Kim Dubansky, Johns Hopkins – A veteran of Team Israel since 2012, Dubansky led the blue-and-white with two goals and four assists for MVP honors on Sunday.
Amanda Tuck, Marist – Tuck played ferociously for 60 minutes on Sunday, recording three goals and one assist.
Hannah Deoul & Hannah Epstein, Middlebury – The duo, along with Ellie Rosenblum, held Birthright to just six shots on goal on Sunday.
Birthright/USA All-Stars (men)
Jesse Parker, Binghamton – With Birthright light at forward, Parker rose to the occassion on Sunday, racking up three goals and assist to lead his team.
Caleb Brodie, Maryland – Brodie scored three goals and was a steady force on offense for the All-Stars on Sunday.
Ben Holback, Missouri Valley – Holback dominated in the faceoff circle on Sunday; expect more of the same on Wednesday.
Israel Men’s National Team
Noah Miller, Vermont – Miller, who scored 12 goals for Israel at the 2014 World Championships in Denver, missed Sunday’s games due to IDF obligations, but he’s expected to be back in action on Wednesday.
Bryan Hopper, Hamilton – Hopper was all over the field for the blue-and-white on Sunday, finishing with three goals and one assist.
Ted Bergman, Wesleyan – Bergman didn’t see action in goal on Sunday, but with Dressler out of the lineup, he’s expected to get the starting nod.
While the depth and familiarity of Israel’s women will again be too much for the All-Stars to handle, the Birthright men will find their scoring touch on Wednesday to secure a decisive win over the blue-and-white.