Davia Procida (center) high fives members of the Israel team following a World Cup game against Korea. (Photo courtesy of Donna Pedersen / July 19, 2013)
On the world stage, Davia Procida was prepared to stand firm. There are principles that are far more important than a lacrosse game — even if it’s a World Cup game.
Long before the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s World Cup tournament began in Oshawa, Canada, Israel asked not to play games on Shabbat, which begins at sundown on Fridays and continues until sundown on Saturday.
The FIL accommodated Israel during the tournament’s pool play, but was unable to make a similar concession during the championship and consolation rounds.
Israel offered alternatives, including playing a doubleheader on Friday, but none was accepted.
“This is NOT a religious decision,” Procida wrote in a blog she has been keeping about the tournament. “This is something that the entire country observes, no matter how each individual decides to make use of this time.”
As Procida pointed out, each of the 19 teams in the tournament represent the beliefs and culture of their country. They carry their country’s flag and wear their country’s colors.
“We’re all on the same page,” the Wilde Lake High School graduate wrote. “This isn’t us thinking we are better or more entitled than any country; this is us being true to the culture of Israel. That’s it.”
The Israeli players were aware of the decision not to play on Shabbat since tryouts began late last year.
“We knew coming into the program,” wrote Procida, who is Wilde Lake’s varsity girls lacrosse coach.
River Hill coach Kelly Berger is also playing in the World Cup. She is a starter for the United States team, which will play Canada for the gold medal on Saturday, July 20.
The U.S. easily defeated Canada earlier in the tournament. Kelly was interviewed after that game and you can WATCH IT HERE.
Lacrosse is in its infancy in Israel and the team is making its first appearance in the women’s World Cup. The team was unknown and unranked but made an impression by going 4-1 in pool play (the loss was to No. 7 Japan in overtime).
Israel rallied to beat New Zealand, 12-9, in the first round of playoffs. That victory put Israel in the quarterfinals where a strong second half by Canada bumped Israel into the consolation bracket.
On July 19, Israel (5-2) played Scotland (5-2) for final tournament placement (fifth through eighth place). Israel pulled its goalkeeper late in the second overtime half and Scotland scored on an empty net for the final 9-7 margin.
The loss dropped Israel into the seventh/eighth-place game, which was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday. The team’s opponent, Haudenosaunee, will win by forfeit.
"The Haudenosaunee Nation women's lacrosse team respects Israel's right to stand up for what they believe in and we wish them all the best with their program," said Haudenosaunee chair Kathy Smith in a press release. "We understand the importance of national identity and are respectful of the sacrafices the Israelis' are willing to make to uphold what is important to them. We are optimistic we will have the opportunity to play against Israel in a friendly game in the near future."
Although sixth place was tantalizingly close, eighth place still exceeds Israel’s initial expectations.
“We are doing something positive for the state of Israel. We have won five games at the World Cup. We are one of the best eight teams in the (world). Not only that, we carry ourselves with poise, class and pride. This whole experience is bigger than the 25 of us,” Procida wrote.
The Israeli team has 10 players of the Jewish diaspora, including Procida, who served as an assistant coach.
Procida wrote that the bonds she has created with her Israeli teammates “will probably never be broken because we stayed true to who we are playing for: Israel.”