Recent Muhlenberg gradute Jessica Shegoski, who played four years of lacrosse with the Mules, reports on her experiences as a member of the Israel National Women’s Lacrosse Team at the 2012 European Festival in Amsterdam.
Today’s the day; time to represent Israel on the international level as a member of the first-ever Israel National Women’s Lacrosse Team.
On the way to Newark Airport my dad missed the exit off of 287 onto the Turnpike, which should have been a red light to me that it would be a long day of travel. We boarded the plane, and once boarding ended, a thunderstorm that had been threatening all day began. What was supposed to be a 6:15pm flight to Amsterdam turned into an 11pm-ish flight. Supposedly a bolt of lightning hit the ground near the plane and took out an electrical mechanism in the belly of the plane. Unfortunately the closest replacement part was at JFK, and that was driven to Newark at rush hour on a Friday night (not the easiest thing to do).
I ended up sleeping the entire plane ride into Amsterdam and arrived mid-morning on June 23.
Finally arrived in Amsterdam ready to lax it up for the next week or so.
After such terrible luck on my flight into Amsterdam, my luck turned around in the airport. I was waiting for my ride to get to our accommodations (the Amsterdam Bos), and someone walked up to me and asked if I was with Israel Lacrosse because he saw my stick bag. Turns out he was one of the men’s festival team coaches and coaches full time at Kean University in New Jersey, so I didn’t have to wait alone.
A couple minutes later our ride arrived and it was off to the Bos. When I arrived at my cabin none of the other girls were at the campsite (yes we stayed at a campsite, think sleepaway camp but with all adults … see photos for accommodations); some who had arrived earlier in the day had gone into Amsterdam while others were still on their way. I ended up going grocery shopping with some of the guys and hanging around until the other girls showed up.
Once all the girls got back in from town and flights it was time for the best part of the day, getting out swag (hello new stick, uniforms, warmups, etc.). We also did introductions; the team is made up of an amazing group of females.
- Liz: ex-George Washington player from the Baltimore area (roommate)
- Sarah (aka Ha): ex-Franklin and Marshall basketball and lacrosse player (roommate)
- Steph: NYU grad and Israeli army personnel (roommate)
- Carrie: Yale grad and Israeli army personnel (roommate)
- Andi: Bahamas native who got to Israel via England and Hotlanta
- Caitlin: ex-Tufts player from Massachusetts
- Alyson: ex-Hopkins player, sister of Caitlin
- Molly: ex-Columbia player, oldest sister to Caitlin and Al
- Mia: current American player from Beth Tflioh
- Miri: current Chapman player from Cali
- Alicia: current med student in Israel
- Tash: current master’s student in Israel from England
- Sarah: ex-Yale player from the mainline area
- Rachael: currently an Israeli (whose goal is to make the entire team move to Israel)
- Felissa: the baby of the team, current high school player from Pittsburgh who will be playing at Stanford
- Taylor: current Wheaton College (Mass.) player
- Jenna: ex-Yale player from Baltimore area
- Kim (Dubs): ex-Hopkins player who went to high school with Jenna
- Coaches: Bonnie Rosen (Temple) and Peter Freidensohn
Woke up with Liz and Sarah to a cold and rainy day (not the ideal practice weather but pretty normal for those of us lucky enough to play a spring sport in the Lehigh Valley). After complaining about how much we didn’t want to get wet or cold we all sucked it up, ate breakfast, and met the rest of the team to drive over to the practice fields.
After a solid and yes cold, wet practice the team headed to the men’s game against Norway, then it was back to the Bos, or da Bos as it became termed, to get warm and clean up for the huge program-wide dinner that we had that night.
I cannot begin to describe how amazing it feels to be part of an organization like Israel Lacrosse and to know that we are the pioneers for the many national teams to come. As an organization, we ended up cramming three teams worth of players plus coaches, trainers and supporters into a pub near the practice fields and had a fun dinner.
Another full day of game play in Amsterdam. The team is gelling really well together. We lost one game today and knowing my luck we did so by only one goal, which only made me think about Muhlenberg and my girls on the team.
Tonight the women’s team went out for a team dinner at one of the local pubs. Some of us ordered dinner like little kids and got chicken nuggets and fries, while others were more adventurous and ordered the special, which was a locally caught fish.
Three more games today (all wins). After a great day of lax the team rushed home to da Bos to get showered and be tourists in Amsterdam. After a quick wardrobe change we all drove into Amsterdam together to explore the Anne Frank house (a historic point that was number one on almost every team member’s list).
The physical house and the rooms that the Frank family and their friends lived in were much more spacious then I had imagined. One of the things that I found interesting about the house was that when Otto Frank (Anne’s father) was consulted about turning it into a historical site, he was adamant about not setting the rooms up as they were, so the rooms are empty other than some TV screens running footage of friends and family speaking. There is a small diorama model that shows the setup of the full apartments, though.
After exploring the Anne Frank house the team went into Rembrandt Square to grab food prior to going to the European Premiere of the movie Crooked Arrows.
Last two games of the tournament to decide where we would be placed for the finals round. Luckily for us, we finished out the day and went in placed second for the festival tournament, which basically solidified our place in the championship game the next day.
Since we only had two games we had a lot more free time during the afternoon and at night. After our games, we split into smaller groups, dropped all of our gear in one of the cars and made our way to the bus station. I guess it was our lucky day on the bus because none of us had to pay our fare into Amsterdam. Turns out it was the bus driver’s birthday and he was giving away some free rides, or maybe our team was just too overwhelming ha ha.
Our first stop in Amsterdam was food and being that we are the Israeli team, of course, we all walked into a felafel place and satisfied our hunger. Once that was fixed we wandered toward the Palace to check it out. It was a beautiful structure that overlooked a larger central square.
We then wandered our way through a farmer’s/flea market that had beautiful flowers and food of every color. We continued to wander in the direction of the Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam and found the Jewish History Museum and one of the Portuguese synagogues. Then it was off to the famous red light district just to say that we had been there – it was interesting to say the least.
Championship Day!!! Both of Israel’s festival teams were in the championship game today against Global Players. The men’s and women’s championship games were at the same time so unfortunately we couldn’t watch each other and cheer each other on, but it must have worked to the Israel Lacrosse program’s advantage because both teams won their respective tournaments!!
The men’s team won in regulation but we went into overtime. At first the refs told our coaches that there would be no overtime or decision and we would have to share the title (something that neither team wanted). To rectify this we went into a three-minute golden goal overtime, then if no one scored in those three minutes we would go into Braveheart to decide who won. For those of you who don’t know, Braveheart is a full-field one-v-one with goalies in cage.
Lucky for us, after having the ball in our defensive end we won it back and the baby of the team (Felissa) took a beautiful shot that went straight into the back of the net. At first I just stood on the field, not sure how to react (I was in shock), then I started running to the goalie (Liz) tearing up and the entire team ran together to celebrate.
action photos by Larry Palumbo, courtesy Israel Lacrosse
In Part 2, Jessica will write about her subsequent trip to Israel …