If Canada and Iroquois was the best game of the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship group round, Israel and England were a close second. Israel took their initial meeting 8-7 in overtime. The two clubs met again in the quarter finals, and it was just as intense as the first time.
But thanks to some stellar saves by goaltender Frankie Scigliano, England was the team moving on to face Canada in the semifinals with a 9-7 score.
“Frank played outstanding and we wouldn’t have won without him. They shelled him in that first period,” said England’s head coach Walt Christianson.
England’s Caleb Kueber opened the scoring but Jean-Luc Chetner scored back-to-back goals late in the first quarter to give Israel a 2-1 lead. His second goal came as he got in alone in front of Scigliano to stretch Adam Fishman’s pass stick side.
The second quarter was back-and-forth with England bettering Israel’s output by one, sending the teams to the half tied 4-4. Nate Clare tied the game at two; Daniel Deckelbaum and Kueber tied it at three. Zachary Pall scored a power play goal for Israel but Lyndon Bunio tied the game at four with a behind-the-net dunk goal.
Scigliano made a pair of athletic saves off Kyle Bergman to open the third quarter, one coming as he stretched out the right arm to stop a rebound.
Matt Marsh then found an open lane and bounced a shot past Zach Higgins in Israel’s goal. After several Israeli shots went over the net, Chetner fought off a check to tie the game at five. Sam Clare put England on top again, and then Bunio scored a diving goal for a two-goal lead – the biggest of the game.
In the fourth, Israel fought back, though it wasn’t easy. Fishman and Bergman scored less than two minutes apart, with Bergman throwing a couple fakes before tucking the ball in past Scigliano high.
But Scigliano and Team England shut the door the rest of the way. The goalie made a toe save on Daniel Applebaum late. He then assisted on Sam Clare’s game winning transition goal. It took three English defenders to knock the ball loose from Chetner on Israel’s last possession of the game. Scigliano finished with 49 saves.
Israel is right back in action against the Netherlands on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. Those two teams, plus Finland and the Czech Republic, all play tomorrow and then Saturday to make up rankings 5-8.
England will finish no lower than fourth and possibly higher as they move on to play Canada in the semi-finals at 11 p.m., though Christianson has told his crew, somewhat surprisingly for a coach, that it’s okay to lose their next game.
“This (against Israel) was our gold medal game,” he said. “Unfortunately we have two games now that we’ll just play and we won’t look at the scoreboard because they’re just too good. If they want, they can beat us by 30.”
Christianson said he struggled for two months with how to tell his team they were going to lose, but said the players appreciated his honesty while they’re still building their program.
“They came to me and said ‘we’ve never had a coach who’s said its okay to lose as long as we play hard.’ It was the right thing to do. I’ve got twelve guys on this team who played three box lacrosse games before they came here. There’s guys out here who didn’t know what a pick and roll was a year ago and we just beat Israel.”
All WILC games can be watched live and free via laxsportsnetwork.com.