Let’s do a recap of the past couple days first….
We lost to Japan in OT. We fought really REALLY hard, but got the short end of the stick. That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. It stung. It was our first loss, it kept us from reaching our goal of 5-0 in pool play. Still, we hung together as a team and a family.
For dinner we got to go to Lake Ontario. It was so beautiful! The water was clear and even though we were down from our loss everyone tried to look past it and stay in good spirits. Wednesday we had the first round of playoffs. In order to stay in the championship bracket, we needed to beat New Zealand to make it into the Elite 8. After our stinging overtime loss vs. Japan, there was definitely an extra spark there for us to play our hardest. Our goal for pool play was to go 5-0. We went 4-1, which was pretty darn close. We decided to make a new goal for playoffs, which was make it into the top 8. Our first time at the World Cup, to finish in the top 8 in the World would be more than an achievement. It would be historical.
In a very physical battle, we came out on top!!! We beat New Zealand 12-9. They had a run towards the end, but instead of getting flustered, our team stayed composed and kept the lead.
This win clinched are fate. We made it to the Elite 8. We accomplished our goal, but we weren’t going to stop there.
For dinner everyone got dressed up and we went to a really nice Italian place. It was so fun, even though everyone was exhausted we were cracking jokes and just having a really great time together. It’s amazing to me that a group of 20 girls, after spending 3 weeks together, still want to be around each other all the time.
Last night, we played #2 Canada for a spot in the final 4. We knew this was going to be tough. Not only are they a very established, strong program with elite players (most of them play Division 1 in the US), but we are playing on their home turf. Our game was prime time. It was on TV, and there were a lot of fans there. We held our own and caught them off guard. We played lacrosse like we had never played before. The half time score was 6-4. I repeat: 6-4. The second half they came out mad and went on a run and we ended up lost 17-5. The score is not a good representation of the game. It was back and forth the entire time. Don’t believe me? Ask the midfielders. They are still asleep. Just kidding.
last night was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. One of our teammates never was able to have a Bat Mitzvah. What id our team do? We threw a Bat Mitzvah for her. We’ve been together for 20 days, yet we still want to be around each other at 11pm at night when we could be sleeping and taking time for ourselves. It was in a meeting room, Julia, literally the most amazing guitar player I have ever met, played jams, we ate ice cream and just celebrated. There was the prayer before reading the torah, the Hora, and some American jams (my favorites, The Call, Grenade, and Wonderwall). Lauren’s get up consisted of a flag as her Talis, a decorative headband, happy birthday balloons, a happy birthday necklace and a Star of David necklace made out of paper.
If before now you weren’t convinced that this team is more than friends, but family, I hope that changed your mind.
If you know me well, which most people reading this blog do, you know that 85% of the time I am not serious. I’m either joking around, laughing my face off at whatever is happening, being sarcastic, singing awfully, or sleeping. This is about to be the most intense 15% ever.
Most of the time, I am a passive aggressive person. I’m not proud of that but It’s the truth. I am not a fan of confrontation. Sit at a dinner with my family. I love my family to death, and I respect all of them, but we are very opinionated. We have many “discussions” at dinner regarding things such as politics, religion, or just day to day news. I’m the one sitting there, trying to change the subject to something about me…
I truly believe that most people have their opinions and it will not change no matter what, and unfortunately want nothing to do with anyone else’s opinions. That might be why I usually don’t bother to get into with people. If someone wanted to have a discussion with me about something, like an actually discussion where you hear my side and I hear yours, where there are some “I see your point, but…” Thrown in there. That usually isn’t the way it works..which is fine but don’t expect me to entertain you with my opinion. Usually…..
There is a lot of press going around about the Israeli team not playing on Shabbat. I first and foremost want to thank ALL of my friends and family. For those of you who support our decision, THANK YOU. Your words are more meaningful than you will ever know. For those of you who don’t support our decision, THANK YOU. I have not received a hateful message, comment, wall post, text, phone call or anything, and I appreciate that more than YOU will ever know as well. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such good people.
Just a side note. This is NOT a religious decision. This is something that the entire country observes, no matter how each individual decides to make use of this time. I first heard about our decision not to play lacrosse on Shabbat at TRYOUTS. We knew this coming into the program. It’s true, when you hear that you’re like Ok cool….got it. There has never been a doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t play on Shabbat. And that’s fine by me.
If you have been following my blog from the beginning, you know the amazing experiences we got to have in Israel. If anything, it inspired me even MORE not to play on Shabbat. I learned all about the Israeli culture. I got to celebrate Shabbat in an orthodox synagogue IN TEL AVIV. I also got to learn about Israel from my teammates who live there and are so informed about everything going on. After experiencing Israel, I have never felt more passionate about NOT playing a sport in order to represent the country on the front of your jersey’s.
As the Israel Women’s National Lacrosse team, we are more than lacrosse players, just as any other country is. The US team is representing the belief and culture of the US. The Latvia team is representing the beliefs and culture of Latvia. Team Japan is representing the beliefs and culture of Japan. We are all on the same page. This isn’t us thinking we are better or more entitled than any country, this is us being true to the culture of Israel. That’s it.
We are doing something positive for the state of Israel. We have won 5 games at the World Cup. We are one of the best 8 teams in the World. Not only that, we carry ourselves with poise, class and pride. This whole experience is bigger than the 25 of us.
Yes, I live, work and grew up in the United States. I never went on birthright. However after being in Israel for 11 days, I feel so connected to the country and to the people. I may have signed autographs one other time in my life, but being around the youth programs in Ashkelon, having 5th and 6th grade girls look up to you when you know that might be all they have to look up to, and knowing that you helped grow the sport you love is an amazing feeling.I also feel so close to my teammates, coaches, and Scott Neiss, the director of ILA. The sport of lacrosse will never ever be played on Shabbat in Israel. Why would we go against that?
I don’t think I have ever stood up for something so deep, meaningful, or controversial before. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions to say about this. If I read something that might hit a nerve, I just go down the hall to Schwabby or Jenna’s smiling face, Steph’s confident demeanor, Julia’s laid back swag or any one of my teammates and it reminds me why we are doing this.
I plan to go back every summer for as long as I can to help with camps and to promote lacrosse and experience Israel again and again. I also plan to have a lot of my teammates with me as I do so, because if there is one thing I know, it’s that we have grown bonds that will probably never ever be broken because we stayed true to who we are playing for: Israel.
Today we play Scotland at 3pm. This will be for 6th place. This is our last game together as a lacrosse team, but just the beginning of something great as a family.