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Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Shabbat problem moot after Israeli lacrosse loss

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Kimberly Dubansky, centre, in action against Canada July 18 [Shawn Muir//Gameday Photography]

TORONTO — The Israeli women’s national lacrosse team’s dreams of a medal at the Federation of International Lacrosse 2013 World Cup came to an end July 18 in a physical match against Canada in front of 3,000 fans at the Oshawa Civic Recreation Complex.

The loss meant the Israeli team was out of the medal round, making moot discussions about Shabbat scheduling for a potential final appearance. The playoffs, including the championship game, wind up Saturday, July 20, but whether Israel had advanced to the finals or not, the team wouldn't play on Shabbat as a matter of policy.

It had been prepared to forfeit the game if it made it to the championship game.

The blue-and-white hung tough with the tournament's host team for 30 minutes, but Canada outscored Israel 10-1 in the second half to prevail 17-5.

Canada jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a pair of goals by Mandy Friend and a shot by Emily Boissonneault. Israel’s Kimberly Dubansky answered back with a man-up goal, followed by a score by Sarah Meisenberg.

After the teams traded goals, Amanda Schwab buried a pass from Jenna Block with 23 seconds remaining in the half to cut the deficit to 5-4. However, Canada’s Crysti Foote created a final scoring opportunity with seven seconds remaining, giving the Canadians a 6-4 halftime advantage.

The second half was one to forget for the Israelis. Canada scored nine more goals to take a 15-4 lead before Block’s goal with 6:58 remaining stopped the bleeding.

Dubansky (two goals), Block (one goal, one assist), Meisenberg (one goal, one assist) and Schwab (one goal) were responsible for the Israeli scoring. Julia Szafman was credited with the loss in goal.

Friend was named player of the match for Canada. Foote (two goals, one assist), Vanessa Vanderzal (two goals), Dana Dobbie (two goals), Boissonneault (two goals), Brooke Eubanks (one goal, one assist), Kaylin Morissette (one goal, one assist), Katie Guy (one goal), Megan Takacs (one goal) and Lydia Sutton (one goal) cracked the scoresheet for Canada.

Katie Donohoe and Kristen Hordy split time in goal. Donohoe was credited with the win.

Canada (5-1) defeated Australia (3-3) 11-7 in the semifinals July 19, while Israel (5-3) fell to Scotland (6-2) July 19 in a consolation semifinal that meant Israel finished the tournament in eighth place. (It forfeited a July 20 Shabbat game against Haudenosaunee – the team from representing the Six Nations native peoples – that would have given is a shot at seventh.)

The United States defeated Britain 21-8 July 19 to meet Canada in the final.

Scott Neiss, director of the Israel Lacrosse Association (ILA), told The CJN earlier in the week that the FIL accommodated the Israelis during the pool portion of the tourney. The ILA spoke with tournament organizers in December to avoid a Shabbat conflict, but when Thailand pulled out of the event, the schedule had to be re-worked.

Still, the Israelis had been in regular contact with other teams who were willing to accommodate them on days other than Saturday, Neiss said.

Going into a crucial playoff qualifier July 17 against New Zealand, Neiss was hopeful something could still be resolved. But if not, he said the team simply wouldn’t play on Shabbat.

“That’s our policy,” Neiss said. “We’re not going to play on Saturday… It’s a matter of national identity. Our country shuts down on Shabbat. It’s a cultural thing, not a religious thing.”

The ILA suggested three solutions to the dilemma: play on Friday evening before sundown, resulting in a doubleheader that day; play the final match on Saturday after sundown, or play early on Sunday morning.

But the FIL said the final must be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 20. An award ceremony and banquet was scheduled for that evening, and teams were scheduled to depart on July 21.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) tried to broker an agreement that was amenable to both sides, but without success.

The next print edition of The CJN is Aug. 1.

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