ASHKELON, ISRAEL – The Israel Lacrosse Association has honored Kelly Layton and Benjamin Friedman, naming them the Goalies of the Year. This is the inaugural year for the two goalie awards, named in honor of two goalies who have gone above and beyond for Israel and Israel Lacrosse. Both awards are intended to recognize goalies who have made a lasting impact on Israel Lacrosse in 2021.
Benjamin Friedman, who has represented Israel on the field since 2018, is the winner of the 2021 Howard “Cookie” Krongard Most Outstanding Men’s Goalie award. He was a standout member of the 2020-2021 gap-year program where he lived in Ashkelon, training and growing lacrosse in schools and through coaching. Determined to help grow the sport, Freidman took full advantage of his time in Israel in 2021, traveling throughout the country to visit the different lacrosse teams on their home field. He explored the player’s home cities, tried their favorite foods, and learned how lacrosse changed their lives. He was also an outstanding goalie during the gap-year program and the Israel Premier Lacrosse League Winter Bubble in December, where he led the league in saves, save percentage, and least number of goals allowed.
His dedication to Israel Lacrosse has helped the grassroots development of the sport in Israel over the past three years. He starred in goal for the U-20 National Team at the 2019 European Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. His infectious positivity makes him not only a great teammate but a leader to those around him. Ben’s commitment to growing the game continues to deepen as he dedicates more of his time to giving back to Israel Lacrosse.
The current freshman at Tufts has a bright future in lacrosse. His competitive drive and dedication to his craft bring up the level of play for everyone around him. His commitment to embracing Israel Lacrosse and its mission has allowed Ben to succeed on and off the field.
Kelly Layton is the recipient of the 2021 Alex Freedman and Family Most Outstanding Women’s Goalie Award. She has represented the blue-and-white since coming on Taglit-Birthright with Israel Lacrosse in 2017. Following her first trip, Kelly has been an influential part of the grassroots development of lacrosse throughout Israel.
A participant of the 2020-2021 gap-year program, Layton lived in Ashkelon from October to May, training and coaching lacrosse to the youth of Israel Lacrosse. Her love for the sport has consistently made the Israel Lacrosse community stronger. She is a leader by example, and her perfectionist approach to goalkeeping pushes all those around her to strive for greatness. She is always looking for ways to help her teammates grow and develop on and off the field.
The 23-year-old has been a consistent player in the Women’s player pool approaching the 2022 busy international calendar. She has dedicated her time to running clinics and coaching the youth during her trip to Israel as a participant in the 2020-2021 gap-year program. After making Aliyah in December of 2021, she has continued to devote her time and efforts to the growth of Israel Lacrosse.
In 2017, she was a member of Ashkelon LC in the Women’s Israel Premier Lacrosse League and was an intern with the 2018 Men’s World Championships in Netanya, Israel. She was also a member of the 2019 Festival Team, competing alongside the Women’s European Championship in Netanya, Israel.
Alex Freedman is one of the pioneering forces behind Israel women’s lacrosse. She served as head coach of Israel’s U-19 team that competed at the World Championships in Peterborough, Canada, earning a #13 world ranking. In 2018 she made Aliyah and moved to Israel where she spent her time coaching and growing lacrosse throughout the country. She played an instrumental role in Israel’s ability to host the 2018 Men’s World Championships, helping to coordinate the interns, run gear tables, and help facilitate the game day experience for the visiting teams. She competed for the blue-and-white on the 2019 Women’s European Championship team and the 2017 Women’s Lacrosse World Cup team. Her efforts to grow lacrosse globally do not stop there as she continues representing Israel as the current Director of International Relations.
Howard “Cookie” Krongard played on Princeton’s undefeated Ivy League championship teams from 1959-1961. He earned the first-team All-American honors in 1961, was selected as the USCLA’s Player of the Year in both 1968 and 1974, voted USILA Man of the Year in 1983, and was inducted into the U.S. National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the New York Sports Hall of Fame.