Ben Herman and Matthew Opsahl scored three goals apiece to lead the Birthright/ USA All-Stars past the Israel men’s national lacrosse team 13-12 in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Ashkelon late last week.
The Wednesday match was the culmination of a three-game exhibition tour, which pitted all-star squads of American college players touring the country on their Taglit-Birthright trip against the Israel men’s and women’s national teams.
“The whole trip was just a great experience,” said Birthright/ USA captain Ryan Hunter, who chipped in one goal and one assist in the series deciding match.
“None of us really knew each other, but we all bonded right away, on the field and off.”
Hunter, who is a rising Junior at Ohio State University, was one of nine athletes on the men’s squad with D1 experience.
Recognized as the 400,000th Taglit-Birthright participant, Hunter had the opportunity to meet Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson.
The Israel men’s national team, which is preparing to compete in the 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships, drew first blood two minutes in on a goal from Matthew Cherry; but Matthew Opsahl (Hobart) and Ben Herman (New England) answered back to give Team Birthright a lead their would not relinquish.
The All-Stars held a 4-3 lead after the first quarter, a 6-4 advantage at the half, and a 9-8 lead after three quarters.
Mitchell Goldberg (Richmond) scored a pair of goals and Mitchell Amour (New England) added a single to give Taglit-Birthright a 12-8 lead, their largest of the game.
The blue-and-white battled back, as Noach Miller scored a pair, and Jacob Silberlicht added a single to trim the deficit to 12-11.
After Delaware’s Jake Levine re-established the All- Stars two-goal lead with six minutes to go, Israel’s Aaron Tracy answered back to cut the score to 13-12. After a late flurry of shots, Birthright/ USA regained possession and was able to run out the clock for the victory.
Goldberg (two goals), Mitchell Amour (one goal, one assist), Levine (one goal), Daniel Gold (one goal), Logan Miller (one goal) also had big nights for Taglit.
Herman was named MVP.
Andrew Landsman (26:00, 5 saves, 4 GA), Adam Daroff (27:00, 4 saves, 3 GA) and Max Scheffler (27:00, 4 saves, 5 GA) split time in goal. Scheffler was credited the victory.
Miller led Israel with five goals, while Silberlicht (three goals), Cherry (two goals, two assists), Matthew Flapan (one goal), Tracy (one goal), and Seth Mahler (one assist) also chipped in. Ben Levine (40:00, 3 saves, 7 GA) and Ted Bergman (40:00, 7 saves, 6 GA) split time in goal; Bergman was dealt the loss.
The match was the nightcap of a full day of activities in Ashkelon; the Birthright bus conducted lacrosse clinics in three local schools, and met Israeli national team players who made Aliyah to coach the Jewish State’s burgeoning youth lacrosse programs.
The Israeli women’s national team edged the Birthright/USA women 10-8 and Ashkelon’s U-13 team hosted Tel Aviv LC; Tel Aviv won the youth game 9-8.
Many of the participants of the “Amazing Israel Lacrosse” trip have extended their trip in Israel to volunteer at lacrosse camps in Ashkelon, Ramle and Tel Aviv in July.
Israel opens their 2014 FIL Men’s World Lacrosse Championships schedule against 10th-ranked Sweden on July 11th at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, home of the MLS’ Colorado Rapids.