In Summer of 2022, the Israel men’s national box lacrosse program suffered their most devastating setback to date.
The Israelis were not on the wrong side of a blowout. They did not endure a tough overtime loss, nor stomach a blown call from a rookie international referee.
A proud program that made a habit of achieving greatness — earning an astonishing #4 world ranking and Gold Medals at the 2017 European Championship — would not defend their European Championship at all in 2022.
The blue-and-white were forced to withdraw from the 2022 Euros in Germany due to a lack of eligible players. Coming out of a two-year COVID-hiatus, our men were largely unavailable; some had hung up their stick for good, others could not attend due to injuries, or work, or life. After turning over every rock, it became clear there was no way possible for the squad to safely compete in the event.
Israel is a tiny sliver of land in the Middle East roughly the size of New Jersey. Likewise, the country’s national lacrosse teams, ranked top 10 in every sector, has a player pool a fraction of the size of their competition.
The number of eligible athletes with real box lacrosse experience is a fraction of that fraction.
Recognizing the need to deepen the shallow player pool for the men’s national box team, Israel Lacrosse founder Scott Neiss — who served as the organization’s Executive Director from 2010-2021 — called the ILA’s U-21 Field Lacrosse Head Coach, Seth Mahler. The duo quickly identified the path to the future for Israel’s box program, and, despite several challenges, reluctantly confirmed Team Israel’s participation in the 2022 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championships in Winnipeg, Canada. The team would compete just days after the no-show of the men’s squad in Europe.
Israel’s hodgepodge group at World Juniors featured a wide range of experience. Some players had raw talent but were completely new to the box game, while others have been on the floor for a lifetime. Likewise, part of the team’s roster — eligible through dispensation waivers under the IIJL’s Developing Nation clause — probably has never enjoyed chinese food on December 25th.
Under strong coaches and stronger captains, the youngest, least experienced team at World Juniors secured convincing wins over Australia and Poland to secure its’ place in the Bronze Medal game. Experienced players shared their knowledge of the box game with ease to their fledgling teammates. Athletes with stronger connections to Israel shared their traditions just as seamlessly. A new model was born.
Today, Israel Box Lacrosse operates Israel National Junior teams at IIJL’s U-21, U-18 and U-16 World Championship events, as well as two annual men’s training camps in Prague, Czech Republic (in conjunction with AHM and E-BOX), and Utica, New York (in conjunction with LAXNAI).
Israel Box Lacrosse is recognized as an affiliate of the Israel Lacrosse Association (ILA) and is designated as a Developing Nation by International Indoor Junior Lacrosse (IIJL).
MacArthur has been the driving force behind the success of Israel’s national box lacrosse program, culminating in a Gold Medal result at the 2017 European Box Championships and a pair of top-five finishes at World Indoors. He served as head coach and general manager of the men’s national team from 2015-2019, holding a 14-7 record as Israel’s head coach in major quadrennial championship events, including a Blue Division schedule (against Canada, USA, etc.) in 2019. MacArthur is credited with training and developing Israel’s inexperienced field lacrosse player pool, making multiple trips to Europe to Israel’s annual box lacrosse training camps in Czech Republic. He also currently serves as the Head Coach at Florida Tech.
Neiss founded Israel Lacrosse in 2010 and served as the Executive Director from 2010-2021. During this time he laid the foundation for lacrosse in Israel and created the framework for utilizing the sport of lacrosse to engage Jews in the Diaspora. He spearheaded hosting the 2018 Men’s World Lacrosse Championships and 2019 Women’s European Lacrosse Championships in Netanya, as well as the development of the Daniel Kraft Family National Lacrosse Center in Ashkelon. A former executive at the National Lacrosse League, Scott is passionate about the development of box lacrosse globally. He currently serves as a consultant to the Israel Lacrosse Association and coordinates all activity for Israel’s national box lacrosse teams.