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Bulldogs Make Impact at World Cup

Jenna Block (photo by Gameday Photography) and Sara Greenberg (photo by Donna Pedersen).
Jenna Block (photo by Gameday Photography) and Sara Greenberg (photo by Donna Pedersen).

Alums and Coaches Part of International Tournament

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale was well-represented at the recent Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women's Lacrosse World Cup. The United States won the World Cup, and Anne Phillips -- Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse -- oversaw the selection of the U.S. roster. Phillips has been U.S. National Team Selection Chair since 2008. Additionally, two former Yale players -- attacker Jenna Block '10 and midfielder Sara Greenberg '09 -- played for Israel, which finished eighth. Yale assistant coach Tanya Kotowicz was an alternate for Germany, which finished 12th.

The World Cup, which featured 19 teams, was held at the Oshawa Civic Recreation Centre near Toronto, Canada, from July 11-20. The event dates back to 1982 and is held every four years. The United States has now won the championship seven times, including twice with Phillips serving as Selection Chair. Phillips also oversaw the selection of the U.S. Under-19 team that won the Under-19 World Championship in 2011, so she now has been a part of three world championships in the last five years.  

The top-ranked United States went 7-0 in the tournament, beating Canada (ranked No. 3) 19-5 in the championship July 20. The U.S. team set program and tournament records for goals (127), goals per game (18.0) and margin of victory (13.2).

The 19 teams at the World Cup were divided up into four pools. As part of "Pool D", Germany (with Kotowicz) and Israel (with Block and Greenberg) each played three games against the other teams in the pool -- including one against each other on July 11. 

Making its first World Cup appearance, Israel's roster was composed of Israeli players as well as members of the Jewish diaspora, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the FIL.

Israel wound up upsetting Germany (ranked No. 10 in the world entering the tournament) 15-6 in the opener and Scotland (ranked No. 8) 15-6. Israel then beat South Korea 19-2 and Hong Kong 19-4 before falling to Japan 12-11 in overtime to finish the pool play/crossover match portion of the tournament with a 4-1 record. Block scored three goals in the first game, then two each in the next two. She had two goals and four assists to earn Player of the Match vs. Hong Kong, then scored one more against Japan. Greenberg scored a goal in the opener.

In the first round of the championship playoffs, Israel beat New Zealand 12-9 to advance to the quarterfinals. Block had two goals and two assists.

After falling to host Canada 17-5 in the quarterfinals, Israel fell to Scotland 9-7 in overtime in the consolation semifinals. Israel then forfeited the seventh-place match to Haudenosaunee because it was scheduled to take place during the Jewish Sabbath. 

Block and Greenberg were teammates at Yale in 2007 and helped the Bulldogs make the NCAA Tournament with a 13-3 regular season record that year.

Block, a native of Owings Mills, Md., received her Master's degree in public health from Columbia in 2012 and is now working as a healthcare consultant with The Advisory Board Company in Washington, D.C.  She appeared in 50 games for the Bulldogs from 2007 through 2010, leading the team in assists in her junior year (23, tied for ninth in Yale history) and her senior year (13). She finished her career with 28 goals and 40 assists, tied for 11th on Yale's career assists list.

Greenberg, a native of Gladwyne, Pa., was working in venture capital and doing research at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs last year when Block contacted her about joining the Israeli team. Greenberg is now in graduate school at Harvard, pursuing a Master's in business administration and a Master's in public policy. She appeared in 29 games for the Bulldogs from 2006 to 2007, totaling 22 goals and four assists.

In conjunction with the Israel Lacrosse Tzedakah Program, each Israeli player competed in honor of a charity of her choosing. A portion of the national team's general fundraising efforts was committed to each charity. Block played for Shanti House, an organization that serves and supports at-risk youth who are victims of physician violence, sexual abuse, crime and prostitution. Greenberg played for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), an organization established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors to provide for the wellbeing of the men and women who serve in the IDF as well as the families of fallen soldiers. 

Kotowicz is German on her father's side and therefore qualified to play for Germany. She is a former two-time UConn team captain who spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Hofstra before joining the Yale staff in the fall of 2012. Her international playing experience includes time as a member of the Wilderness Lacrosse Team in Adelaide, Australia, in 2003. She also served as a coach with the MAAC All-Star Team in Tokyo, Japan, during the summer of 2006. In January 2010 she was on the coaching staff of the USA Athletes International Lacrosse team that won the gold medal at the Southern Cross Lacrosse Challenge in Australia. She also served as a guest coach for the English National Team in January 2011.

Kotowicz is a native of Hicksville, N.Y. Including camps and clinics, her efforts to spread the game of lacrosse have taken her to 13 different states along with Australia, England and Japan.  She has also worked to spread the game in developing areas throughout the United States, including Georgia, Hawaii and Washington.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity