Olympiada Preview: Tepper Trophy at stake

ASHKELON, ISRAEL — Four of the top teams from throughout the country will compete for the Tepper Trophy at the U-15 National Championships, held in conjunction with the Israel Olympiada at Netanya’s Wingate Institute on May 26th.

Ashdod LC, Ashkelon LC, Kiryat Gat LC and Barak Netanya LC will each send their U-15 league champion to the tournament. During the 2016 season, four teams in each city battled for the top spot in their respective leagues to earn a qualifying bid to the championship. The Ashdod Inferno (Makif Hay School), Ashkelon Surfers (Makif Alef School), and Kiryat Gat Landsharks (Sheldon School) have clinched their city titles, while the Netanya Eagles and Lightning are still competing for their league crown as regular season play concludes on May 22.

The Girls National Championship tournament will feature all-star teams from Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat and Netanya. Players were nominated by their coaches and then received votes from coaches around the league to be selected to represent their city. As the girls programs show steady growth around the country, the fight for a place on the all-star team has become a greater challenge.

The 9th Annual National Olympiada is the preeminent annual youth sport competition in Israel. Israel Lacrosse will be participating in this multi-sport event for the first time, awarding the “Tepper Trophy” to the national champions after what are expected to be a series of fierce contests.

“We are honored to be included in this prestigious event by the Wingate Institute and extremely eager to show off lacrosse and our talented athletes to the rest of the sports community who may not recognize the sport yet,” said David Lasday, Director of Youth Development. “But really, I’m most excited for our kids to play at this next level, to feel the excitement of competing in front of an energetic crowd – especially the players who have been with us from the beginning, when having enough players to field even two teams for a game was still just a dream. For them, this is more than they could have imagined.”

Highlighted below are the players to watch as the cities fight to claim the first Tepper Trophy and National Championship title.

Boys U15 Tournament

Ashdod Inferno (5-2): Ronen Biskayov has been the leader of the charge in regards to the development of the Inferno. Ronen was one of the first 3 members of the team and has been a stalwart on the offensive end since he arrived. With unbridled enthusiasm and an indefatigable desire to improve, Ronen has gone from beginner to leader very quickly. There’s never been a player in the Ashdod Lacrosse Club with as much passion and love for the game of lacrosse as Ronen. However, they’ve all worked extremely hard to grow from being a new team with promise to a force in the Ashdod youth program.

Ashkelon Surfers (4-0): Guy Zrian is an athletic midfielder who can affect the game on both ends. Just as physical as he is fast, Guy can be found scooping up loose ground balls on defense and thrives playing in transition. A heavy right-handed dodger, Guy is more of a finisher than a facilitator as he scored many unassisted goals in the Ashkelon qualifying games for the Olympiada. Solomon Gangul is a long-stick defender with great stick skills and feel for the game. Naturally soft spoken, Solomon lets his play do the talking and leads by example. Look for him on defense – intercepting passes, making take-away checks and helping his teammates win every ground ball. Don’t be surprised if you see Solomon tally a few on the score sheet as well.

Kiryat Gat Landsharks (8-0): Liad Desta, has been playing lacrosse for 6 months. His speed, aggression and leadership has earned him the role of captain. He is dedicated to improving and shows up early to practice every day ready to learn something new. He has shown great respect for his teammates, coaches and the officials. Liad’s impact will be felt in this tournament and on the future of the sport of lacrosse in Israel.  Yonatan Raz is a committed player and tremendous leader who knows how to communicate well with his fellow teammates, which has been crucial to the team’s success. Yonatan is a student of the game, a workhorse who wants to learn every aspect of the game and cares deeply about his team winning and also having good sportsmanship. Standing more than 2 meters tall, Aviv Trubeck plays a large roll on the defensive end. Don’t be fooled by his friendly demeanor, even towards opposing players – the fearless 13-year-old knows how to protect his goal.

Netanya Eagles (4-0): Ido Bar-David is a very tough player with a positive attitude, both characteristics that are contagious to his teammates during practice and games as a leader of the Eagles. Ido has put in an enormous amount of time practicing his stick skills at home and it’s noticeable on the field. Watch out for his ability to run beyond his limits, pushing his body for the good of the team.

Girls U15 Tournament

Ashdod All-Stars: Batel Elkalay has been playing lacrosse for a little more than a year and has some of the best stick skills of any player in the country. She is arguably the best youth lacrosse player in Israel, male or female. Despite the language barrier between her and her coaches, she understands the concepts of the game and acts as an inspiration to her teammates. She also attends practices in the neighboring city of Ashkelon. There is no doubt she is highlighting the scouting reports of all the cities coming into the tournament.

Ashkelon All-Stars: Yulia Gorobets has been playing lacrosse in Ashkelon since the founding of the program in the summer of 2013. Unfortunately she was too young to play on the U19 national team but got the experience to train with them and it shows in her confident play. She is one of the most improved and most dedicated players in the Ashkelon program and is sure to be an impact player during the tournament.

Kiryat Gat All-Stars: Shahaf Alfasi started playing lacrosse in September. At first lacrosse was only a fun activity to do with her friends but as the season went on she became more passionate about the sport and grew into a strong team leader. Shahaf spends a large amount of her free time playing lacrosse and honing her skills. She is a strong midfielder with a great vision of the field, which will help her team take advantage of opportunities presented by the opponent.

Netanya All-Stars: Though Rona Roytman is a relatively new player, she has a very strong passion for lacrosse, which in combination with her enthusiasm and strong work ethic has propelled her to the top of the league. Using her speed, she will do everything to get possession of the ball and make plays for her team.