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Flag Football: Israel's women win in Germany

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BIG BOWL III”. Cologne,Germany

The Israeli women's national team travelled to Germany last week with one goal in mind. After rolling over the competition with six straight victories en route to a third Big Bowl championship, it would be difficult to call the trip anything but a complete success.

The playing of Hatikva during the title presentation was an emotionally fitting conclusion to an action-packed weekend of football that put the rest of the European nations on notice that Israel will be a force to be reckoned with at September's Euro Championships in Belfast, Ireland.

Yonah Mishaan's fearsome squad of females made sure that the refs would not be able rain on its parade, turning on the jets from the get-go and not letting up an inch.

After beginning play with their closest victory of the tournament, a 19-18 nail-biter over a German team, the Israeli women were able to make adjustments on defense and hold their remaining five opponents to just 7.2 points a game.

Standout offensive performances from just about everyone on the roster allowed Mishaan and assistant coach Jessica Sagoskin to spread the wealth and open up the playbook to give a number of national team newcomers opportunities to get some much-needed international game experience. The mental strength of the Israeli girls - who are backed by the ever-benevolent Kraft Family - was at an all-time high and the intensity they displayed from the opening kickoff onwards was truly a site to behold. Triumphs over another German all-star club, the Austrians, the Danish and the Swiss set up a rematch in the finals between Israel and the team it beat by just a lone point in its opener. In perhaps the team's most complete performance in the last three years, Israel totally dominated the Germans 26-6 in the title game behind a full-throttle precision offense and a smashmouth blanket defense. The highlight of the entire tournament was an Elissa Sagoskin full-length diving interception in the final that, as much as than anything, typified the supreme determination and desire that characterized the play of each of the women on the Israeli squad. "There was no way to give a team MVP award to any one of the girls, with how well they all played", explained a happy but measured Mishaan. "There were so many positives to take from this tournament, from the physical and mental stamina we maintained to the combination of speed and perfect execution working in tandem. It was a very good stepping stone, but our real mission is Belfast. We must have a good showing at the European Championships to validate out title here. Until then, we can only look at it as a tune-up."

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