Ashkelon Surfers win U-15 National Championship

NETANYA, ISRAEL — The Ashkelon Surfers, representing Makif Aleph School, topped the previously undefeated Kiryat Gat Landsharks of Shelon School, 11-5 in the Tepper Trophy Final on Thursday at the Israel Olympiada.

The tournament featured the winner of the U-15 school leagues in the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat and Netanya, showcasing the best young lacrosse talent in the country. The event took place at the Wingate Institute as part of the Youth Olympiada, which brought together 6,500 young athletes from 28 cities from around Israel and Jordan.

The competition opened with the Landsharks taking on the Ashdod Inferno (Makif Hey). The Landsharks entered the competition unbeaten in the Kiryat Gat School league, while the Inferno earned the right to represent the city of Ashdod with big wins over Makif Vav Sea Wolves and Makif Daled Aliens in local competition.

The Inferno took the early 3-0 lead with goals by Dani Reznik, David Pliner, and Ronen Biskayov, but the Landsharks answered back with goals late in the first half by Yonatan Raz, Liad Desta, and Yahav Bengal, to tie the game at the break. According to Landsharks head coach JT Jennings, “Our players started the game a little nervous to be on the national stage, and they were not use to the physical defense of the Inferno.” The Inferno came out firing in the second half with one goal each by Pliner and Biskayov pushing the lead to 5-3, in favor of Ashdod. Its then that Kiryat Gat School League leading scorer Yahav Bengal took over the game, scoring four straight goals, securing his team’s spot in the final with a 7-5 victory.

The second boys game featured a veteran Ashkelon Surfers (Makif Aleph) team against a younger Netanya Eagles. Despite a coming out party for new Eagles goalee Niv Hing, Netanya was out matched by a surfers team that featured several players who played for Ashkelon in last summers IPLL Academy. Ashkelon won the game 10-2 with scoring from Ronen Imbramovich (3), Yoel Obreja (2), Oran Ben-Hemo (2), Natanal Voronov (1), Liran Sapojnikov (1), and Noam Tal (1). Eagles Head Coach Eric Kansky “I was impressed with our teams teamwork and communication on the field. The Eagles team has a lot of good young talent with great potential for the future.”

The Inferno and Eagles played exhibition matches against a new Sderote Quakers team. The Quakers, who have been practicing since March, are a quick and athletic team of players from Shahar Hanegev School outside of Sderote. The Quakers surprised the Eagles winning 5-3, and lost to the Inferno 6-2. In addition to Shahar Hanegev, next year’s Sedrote Schools league will also feature teams from Gutviert High School, as well as other schools in the region.

The third place game pitted the Inferno against the Eagles. Despite a valiant effort from Eagles’ Ido Bar David, who willed in three goals, the Eagles fell to a stronger Inferno team 6-3, built on defense, and fueled by energetic goalee Dennis Saspickov. Head Coach Andrew Copeland remarked, “Dennis is the heart and soul of this Inferno squad, he brings a special passion for the game of lacrosse, and pushes his teammates to be their best. It’s been a pleasure to coach him.”

The Tepper Trophy Final featured the unbeaten Kiryat Gat Landsharks against the experienced Ashkelon Surfers. Pinpoint passing and strong team chemistry pushed Ashkelon to an early lead. A give and go from Abramovitch to Ben-Hemo made the lead 5-2 at the break. The Landsharks were able to make a run fueled by winning faceoffs, to come within 6-4, midway through the second half. Despite physical defense from the Landsharks, a level headed Ashkelon squad was able to secure the victory 11-5, taking home the 2016 U15 Tepper Trophy.

On the women’s field Ashkelon girls took first place under the leadership of Shirel Fresh and Yulia Gorobets, while Ashdod secured second place with a dominant showing from Batel Elkalay. Yanir Yahalom lead the Kiryat Gat team to a third place finish. A younger Netanya team continued to improve throughout the day. According to Amanda Tuck, who organized the Ashdod and Ashkelon teams, “It’s always amazing to bring our teams from around the country together to compete, nothing can replace game experience. We will continue to work to change how women playing playing sport is perceived here, so that someday soon we will also have local girls school leagues.”

Shirel Fresh (Ashkelon) had 6 goals. 3 of those goals were assisted by Gabriela Cheban. Batel Elkalay (Mermaids) had 2 goals.