Israel U-19 Women debut at European Championships

KATOWICE, POLAND — The Israel U-19 Women’s National Team will take the field this week in the first-ever European Women’s U-20 Championships from August 4-11.

Israel, who holds a #14 world ranking in the Women’s Junior sector, will compete in the inaugural event against #3 England, #7 Wales, #9 Germany, as well as Czech Republic, who is currently unranked but is regularly considered top-10 in the world, and fellow unranked host Poland.

#8 Scotland, #11 Finland and Netherlands are not competing in the event.

Israel will be led by head coach Alex Freedman, who made Aliyah in 2016 and lives in Ashkelon. She has high-level international experience under her belt as a player, representing Israel at the Senior World Championships in England last summer. She will be joined on the sidelines by assistant coach Julia Masias and general manager Sam Kramer.

The team will play five games in five days beginning Aug. 5 in a round robin among all participating countries that will determine the playoffs set for the tournament’s final two days.

Israel’s roster is comprised of mostly notice players, but has a blend of experience with forward Nikol Baglay and midfielder Gabriella Cheban expected to the lead the charge. Baglay and Cheban both debuted for Israel at the 2015 U-19 World Championships in Scotland, before graduating to the Women’s Senior roster at the 2017 FIL World Cup in England.

The duo bring key experience and are expected to help a relatively young roster learn the ropes. The European Federation’s minimum age is 15, and, Israel is expected to be one of the younger squads in the Championship. The tournament will provide everyone with a great opportunity to see serious competition.

“We have a relatively large number of high school-age girls playing lacrosse in Israel,” Freedman said. “We are excited to provide them the opportunity to travel to Europe and play against some great competition in Poland.”

Freedman said the top focus her is to provide her players with a wider lacrosse network to help their growth within and love for the sport.

“Our main goal is to continue to improve our team’s skill level through the exposure of our women’s program to international competition,” she said. “Additionally, we hope to provide the experience to our players to meet women from across Europe and inspire them to continue playing the sport they love.”

Kramer said this tournament will give the girls a chance to put into practice what they’ve spent hours and hours honing to perfect, and that can only be tested in actual games, as well as the honor of donning the Blue and White.

“This tournament will show the girls a high intensity and physicality that is hard to portray through film or practice,” he explained. “It’s an experience that can only be found in a game outside of one’s peers or country. Competing with the flag and country name on your jersey and proving you are the best, there’s nothing like it.”

The general manager also said he is most looking forward to singing the Hatikva with his team before games, which would be emotional regardless but even more so because of the tournament’s proximity to Auschwitz, one of the most well-known and deadly concentration camps during the Holocaust.

“Singing the Israeli national anthem in a place where not so long ago we were persecuted and thrown out of is something special,” Kramer explained.

Israel U-19 Women’s European Schedule
Sun, Aug 5 at 2:00 PM – Israel vs. Czech Republic
Mon, Aug 6 at 11:00 AM – Israel vs. England
Tue, Aug 7 at 2:00 PM – Israel vs. Germany
Wed, Aug 8 at 11:00 AM – Israel vs. Wales
Thu, Aug 9 at 11:00 AM – Israel vs. Poland
*All times Israel Standard