Team Israel has a date with Canada, and now – officially – a date with its conscience.
The women’s lacrosse team from Israel beat New Zealand 12-9 on Wednesday to guarantee themselves a spot in the top eight at the World Cup in Oshawa. Not bad for a team that didn’t exist the last time the World Cup was a played.
The 5-1 Israelis get second-seeded Canada (3-1) in the playoff round Thursday.
But win or lose Thursday and Friday, they put themselves in the top-eight bracket that has games set for Shabbos. The team has vowed not to break with their traditions and will forfeit their game on Shabbos Kodesh.
“It’s part of our national identity,” said captain Katie Mazer. “We’re playing for Israel. We’ll deal with that as it comes.”
They will forfeit Saturday’s game even if it’s the gold-medal game.
“We’re a team,” said attacker Jenny Block. “We we stand by our team. We’ll see what happens.”
Team Israel has asked organizers to reschedule their Saturday game. The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), which sets the schedule, has said that’s not possible, citing insurance, ticket sales, organizational bylaws and travel plans by other teams.
“Israel has told FIL that they respect and understand the FIL event bylaws as well as the FIL board’s decision, and thus are prepared to forfeit the Saturday game. We appreciate their understanding,” federation president Stan Cockerton said in an email.
“Further, the host committee that works separately but closely with FIL is willing to provide a venue for them to play an exhibition match on Friday the 19th. As such, Israel is free to co-ordinate a game with any opponent they please.”
Organizers did accommodate Israel’s wish not to play on Shabbos in the earlier round-robin portion of the schedule.
Team Israel is trying to arrange an exhibition match on Friday before sundown – when Shabbos begins – against the team it would have played Shabbos. It won’t be known until the conclusion of Friday’s games who Israel will be scheduled to play on Shabbos and for what position.
But that exhibition match, if played, would not count toward FIL rankings and final positions. On Shabbos, final positions 1 through 8 are up for grabs.
Few expect the Israelis to be in Shabbos’ gold-medal game. To get there, the upstarts would have to beat Canada – one of the heavyweights in international lacrosse – on Thursday, and then on Friday beat the winner of Thursday’s Scotland-Australia game. The Aussies are also historically strong. The top-seeded and undefeated Americans are on the other side of the bracket and expected to be in the gold-medal game.
But few thought Israel – a team culled from the U.S. college ranks – would get this far.
“This is our goal,” Mazer said of being in the top eight. “We did it. We’re as excited as we could be.”
As for playing Canada on Thursday – when about 3,000 pro-Canadian fans will fill the seats at the Oshawa Recreation Centre – Israel says it’s ready.
“It’s the playoffs, anything can happen,” said Block. “We’re determined to be here. We’re ready to play hard and give them a good game.”
Source: The Star