Israel lacrosse is fighting for more than just a world championship
DENVER, Colorado - The Lacrosse World Championships is down to it's final six teams. The United States is the number one overall seed, and went through pool play undefeated. Another squad making a title run, though, is performing admirably both on and off the field.
Israel's lacrosse team is in the midst of an improbable run. Meanwhile back at home, their world is crashing down on them.
"It's such a tragic situation right now, and it's very complex," said Attackman Noach Miller. "We're hoping [to] unify Israel showing that we're playing here for the Arabs and the Jews, so we're hoping that this can really bring people together and provide some hope for everyone back home."
Israel lacrosse was established just four years ago, the team's quick rise in the world rankings has been tampered by updates of rocket attacks from Gaza and the loss of many Israeli lives.
"We talk about it every day, in team meetings, on the bus, on the way over [to the playing fields, and] in our huddles," said an emotional Bill Beroza, Israel's head coach. "It's near and dear to everybody's heart. We think about the people and what's going on and something we pray for, peace."
The team has already lost a handful of players who have been called upon to return to the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), but they're still fighting to represent the country they call home.
"We persevere [and] we truck through this," said Scott Niess, the executive director of Israel Lacrosse Association. "We're not going to stop what we're doing, but it's something that puts things into perspective."
An emotional Beroza stresses his desire for the team's good showing, which he hopes will help the sport grow and improve relations between warring factions in religion.
"I think it is a foundation for creating peace," said Beroza. "Little kids play together, [and] they're not going to fight when they get older."
Australia would end Israel's run Wednesday night in the quarterfinals 9-8.