Jerusalem hosts thriller as England takes 2-0 series lead

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — England defeated Israel 8-6 on Thursday at the Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem in the second matchup of England’s five-day training camp in the Holy Land.

Israel jumped out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter after midfielder Matthew Popeck scored with a bouncing shot from the left. But England stormed back, tallying the game’s next three goals and drawing even with 10 seconds remaining in the half.

A back-and-forth third quarter provided the crowd with a tied game at 5-5 heading into the final 20 minutes, but England opened the fourth with two goals in the first six minutes, mounting an insurmountable lead.

Alex Russell led England with three goals; he has five for England through two games. Josh Sherry-Brennan, seeing his first action of the week, scored twice. Ryan Sweetman, Zac Guy and Jak Wawrzyniak added singles; Elliot Leonard and Will Hardy chipped in one assist each.

Hal Dwoberg (78:00, 11 saves, 6 GA) earned the win in goal, while Willy Baxter (2:00, 2 saves, 0 GA) performed admirably, cold-called to fight off a furious Israel late comeback attempt.

Despite the loss, Israel attackman Ryan Hunter, who scored Israel’s fourth goal, came away happy with the team’s effort. Israel threw 22 shots toward England’s net, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and caused nine English turnovers.

“This is all about us learning our strengths, getting better, and as time comes we will feel even more confident” said Hunter.

Midfielder Jacob Silberlicht, who had the team’s sixth goal, also saw the matchup as an educational opportunity for his team.

“These are our first real scrimmages as a team,” Silberlicht said. “I know for us, and I’m sure for England as well, everyone’s out here learning, trying to get their feet, trying to work the systems, trying to learn new things. We’re all getting better.”

Throughout the game, the teams’ quality was apparent, with rattling hits, acrobatic saves and awesome athleticism on full display. Both Israel and England have high expectations for the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships in Netanya this July, and from the passion on the field in Jerusalem it was clear why.

Hometown hero Yochanan Katz (two goals) led Israel, while Hunter, Popeck, Silberlicht and Eric Cantor added singles. Reuven Dressler (40:00, 6 saves, 3 GA) and Ted Bergman (40:00, 5 saves, 4 GA) split time in goal.

“This felt like two top teams in the world,” Hunter said. “Not in Europe but in the world. Flat out, these guys can compete on both teams. I think that’s what this is all about. I’m excited for the whole world, everyone in North America, everyone in Europe, everyone all over, to see that this isn’t just a North American sport anymore. It’s all around the world, and there’s top teams everywhere.”

England’s head coach Tom Wenham left Jerusalem thrilled with his team’s performance and the game as a whole. As coaches do, he had some nitpicks, but the intensity from both sides was exactly as he hoped.

“I think both teams walk off the field thinking they perhaps didn’t shoot the ball as well as they would have wanted, and there’s a few things that as a coach you’d want to be a bit crisper on,” Wenham explained. “But in terms of quality, that’s two top-level teams going toe-to- toe. It’s that kind of approach. Some very, very competitive lacrosse between two very competitive teams.”

Thursday’s matchup leads the teams into Friday’s showdown in Ashkelon at Sala Stadium at 10 a.m. The game will be televised nationally on Sports5, a huge opportunity for Israel, England and the sport of lacrosse to reach millions of people. In addition to the Israel-wide broadcast, the stands are expected to be full for part three of the five-game series between the two European powers.

After Friday’s game, the series will wrap up with a friendly at Synthetic Field in Herzliya on Saturday at 8 p.m., and then Sunday at 10 a.m. at Shapira Field in Netanya. These final three games will serve as important warm ups for England and Israel before the World Championships this summer.

Additional caps (England) – Ryan Hunns, Jake Parker, Ryan Sweetman, Elliot Leonard, Sam Russell, James Ready, Joe Baythorpe, Tom Brook, Tom Bracegirdle, Sam Patterson, Jak Wawrzyniak, Dan Smith, Tommy Kirkland, Josh Hurry, Alistair Berven, Andrew Baxter

Additional caps (Israel) – Max Adler, Ori Bar David, Kyle Bergman, Dan Deutsch, Eric Fischer, Matthew Flapan, Chris Friedman, Max Kaufman, Andrew Kruter, Gabriel Leonhard, Seth Mahler, Niles Miller, Peter Moran, Franklin Pargh, Alex Rabin, Jonathan Rathauser, Marc Skolnick, Sean Wright

Israel Men’s National Team Spring Tour
Sat, Apr 7 in New York, NY- New York Athletic Club 13, Israel 12 (OT) – Recap
Sun, Apr 8 in Hewlett, NY – New York Lizards 23, Israel 6 – Recap
Wed, Apr 11 in Kiryat Gat, Israel – England 7, Israel 6 – Recap
Thu, Apr 12 in Jerusalem, Israel – England 8, Israel 6
Fri, Apr 13 at 10:00 AM – Israel vs England – (Ashkelon Municipal Stadium – Ashkelon, Israel)
Sat, Apr 14 at 8:00 PM – Israel vs England – (Herzliya Synthetics – Herzliya, Israel)
Sun, Apr 15 at 10:00 AM – Israel vs England – (Shapira Field – Netanya, Israel)
Sat, Apr 21 at 8:00 PM – Israel vs Germany – (Sportpark Ostra – Dresden, Germany)
Sun, Apr 22 at 11:00 AM – Israel vs Germany – (Sportpark Ostra – Dresden, Germany)
*Schedule is subject to change