NYMBURK, CZECH REPUBLIC — The Israel women’s national team is ready to make their European debut against Wales (No. 2 in Europe, No. 5 in the World) on Thursday.
The team, which is composed nearly entirely of residents of the southern coastal-city of Ashkelon, Israel, has been preparing for the better part of the last year under the guidance of head coach Kelsey MacDonald. They’re undefeated in the four friendlies they’ve played, working out some late kinks in tune ups this week against Czech Republic and Ireland following their two-game sweep over the Birthright/USA All-Stars last month in Israel.
The Championships are held at Sportovní Centrum in Nymburk, Czech Republic, from August 6-15. The blue-and-white’s roster is composed of entirely Israel-based players, per National Association policy for European competition, as well as in accordance with the rules and regulations of the European Lacrosse Federation (ELF).
The team made a pair of late roster tweaks on the eve of the championships, adding forward Ifat Ribon and defender Katie Mazer to strenghten the squad.
The Jewish State’s women are ranked 8th in the world — but are unranked in Europe — as 2015 marks Israel’s debut in a women’s European Championship event, which is now held quadrennially. Israel joins 16 other countries who are vying for a Gold Medal in the small city located on the outskirts of Prague.
The blue-and-white have been drawn into the “group of death” with 5th-ranked Wales (#2 in Europe), 14th-ranked Netherlands (#7 Europe) and newcomer Italy. Israel must finish in the top two in the group to advance to the playoff round.
Mon, Aug 3 – Israel 10, #10 Ireland 2 (friendly)
Tue, Aug 4 – Israel 10, Czech Republic 5 (friendly)
Thu, Aug 6 at 1:30 PM – Israel vs. #5 Wales
Fri, Aug 7 at 6:00 PM – Israel vs. Italy
Sun, Aug 9 at 9:00 AM – Israel vs. #14 Netherlands
**Playoffs begin on August 11th
Wales is widely regarded as one of the top teams in Europe, finishing as the second-best European team in both the 2013 FIL Women’s World Cup and the 2012 ELF European Championships. Israel and Wales have never met — but the opening day match is one of the most widely anticipated on the entire schedule.
Italy’s women, who make their international debut against Israel on August 7th, are expected to be strong for a team with newcomer status. The team is coached by UMass’ Angela McMahan, and, while the core of the squad will be Italy-based, a handful of players with strong NCAA experience are expected to lead the Italians in their debut.
Netherlands has never met Israel in an international competition, although the blue-and-white recorded a 12-1 win over the Dutch in a 2013 scrimmage prior to the World Cup. Despite the lopsided result in 2013, the Orange are not to be taken lightly as the second-ranked squad in the group.
Israel 10, Ireland 2 (Aug 3)
In their first scrimmage against team Ireland, Israel pulled away from the Irish early with 10-3 victory. (Statistics not kept).
Israel 10, Czech Republic 5 (Aug 4)
In the second and final scrimmage against the hosting team, the Czech Republic, Israel came out on top 10-5 with three goals a piece from Amanda Tuck, Courtney Miller and Jessica Rothstein. Leah Sherman added the tenth and final goal and Miller also had one assist. At the conclusion of the game, Israel lined up facing the Czech team and exchanged congratulations and good wishes for the up coming tournament.
Aug 5 day off
On Israel’s last day before the opening of the tournament, the team traveled to the popular Czech city of Prague. From Prague the team took a bus east to Terezin, the former Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. There the team paid their respects to the Jewish men and women who died while imprisoned at the camp.
Tomorrow, Israel will play their first official game of the tournament against Wales. Watch live, free of charge, at the event website at ec15lax.com.
Faceoff is slated for 1:30pm local time / 2:30pm Israel time / 7:30am ET USA
Todah raba to all of our fans and supporters who helped get team Israel here!!