Friday, 27 July 2012 00:00
In its first year of international competition, Israel Lacrosse took the European Championships by storm by placing eighth in the international tournament while fielding a championship-winning team in the EC12 Festival Tournament.
While the executive board for Israel Lacrosse is working very hard to build the sport from the ground up with Israeli natives, the current roster and staff is mostly made up of Jewish Americans with Israeli passports or other deep ties to the country and the Jewish religion.
Alex Jacobs and David Franklin are both graduates of Jericho High School and were standouts in the Jayhawks lacrosse program. Jacobs’ mother was born in Israel and his sister currently resides there as well. With that, “A.J.” holds an Israeli passport and competed in the championship tournament as a starting attackman; he scored Israel’s first goal in the European Championships in the blue and white victory over Slovakia. Jacobs also played his college lacrosse at Oberlin College where his father, Don, also played.
Franklin graduated from Jericho in 2004 and finished his collegiate lacrosse career in 2008 at Emory University; he currently works as a senior researcher at CBS Sports Network where he is very involved in CBS’ coverage of college lacrosse as well as both indoor and outdoor professional lacrosse. “I was supposed to come to Israel on birthright in 2007 but had to drop my spot in the trip when our team at Emory advanced into the national postseason. It’s amazing to think about how lacrosse ultimately brought things full circle and gave me the opportunity to visit Israel in this capacity. Playing with a childhood friend such as A.J. also makes the experience that much more special.” Franklin was a utility for Israel Festival team, as he would either start at attack or as a long stick midfield.
Max Weisenberg from Long Beach first came to Israel last year to play in the inaugural Israeli Lacrosse Championship at Kraft Stadium. “I contacted Scott and told him I was very passionate about seeing the country for the first time and promoting the sport in Israel.” With that, Oceanside native and Israel executive director Scott Neiss invited Weisenberg overseas for just under two months where he conducted camps and clinics in addition to playing in the Zimmerman Cup. Weisenberg graduated this past spring from Bryant University where he played Division I Lacrosse for legendary coach Mike Pressler. Upon graduation, Weisenberg met the Israel Lacrosse team recently at the tournament venue in Amsterdam; he was among the top scoring midfielders on the championship-winning festival squad.
Ben Belmont from Great Neck graduated this past spring from Duke University where he won a NCAA Division I Championship as a sophomore in 2010. Belmont also made the trip to Amsterdam with Weisenberg to compete on the Israel Festival team and was a valuable addition as a starter at close defense. “It’s kind of hard to compare anything to winning an NCAA National Championship but my experiences with Israel Lacrosse and the festival tournament are memories I will treasure for a very long time.”
Evan Goldstein is originally from Queens, New York but played his college lacrosse on Long Island at Nassau Community College and Long Island University, CW Post. The 30-year old attackman saw a lot of playing time off the bench and was among the crowd favorites when he scored goals and executed his trademark celebrations in the EC 12 Festival Tournament. “I am extremely passionate about my Jewish heritage and the state of Israel; it means the world to me to leave my mark on this program,” said Goldstein.
Jesse Kane from Roslyn played college lacrosse at Oberlin College in Ohio and is currently studying medicine in Tel Aviv. The midfielder competed for Israel’s International Tournament team and arrived in Amsterdam only hours before Israel’s opening-round game against Slovakia; Kane proved to be one of Israel’s most important players due to his ability to face-off, push the ball in transition and score goals as well. “Jesse is the captain of our club in Tel Aviv and has done a wonderful job of helping me build this program into what it has become,” said Neiss. “None of this would be possible without him.”
Israel Lacrosse Head Coach Bill Beroza is also a Long Island native and played at Hempstead High School before going on to a stellar career at Roanoke College. Beroza has been a player and an assistant coach for Team USA and was named Israel’s Head Coach in the winter of 2011. Israel assistant coach Pete Ginnegar is originally from Smithtown and was very moved by his experience with Team Israel. “My mom always told me never to forget where I came from and being on the Israel Lacrosse staff was almost like a reawakening for me. In addition to having a great time with the coaches and players I now feel more connected to my culture and some of the sights both on and off the field this summer really left me speechless at times.”