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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Ma’ayanot senior Esther Avital (far right) feeds the ball to fellow senior Eden Schechter (far left) who then scored the first goal of the game against HAFTR.

Ma’ayanot senior Esther Avital (middle) scores a goal on a rebound from senior Lily Fuchs (far right) in second OT to beat HANC.

The Ma’ayanot Rapids hockey (8-1) came into their final game of the regular season with a must-win scenario. If they lost to the HAFTR Hawks (4-4), they would be in third place in the Western Division. If they won, they would tie Kushner for first place. With that pressure, the home team, on senior night, won this crucial match in front of a large audience in Teaneck. This assured them home court advantage in the playoffs.

Ma’ayanot jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a goal by senior Eden Schechter (with eight goals, the team’s leading scorer). She was assisted for the seventh time this season by fellow senior Esther Avidan. Later in the first, senior Chaya Ross scored, assisted by her linemate (and fellow senior co-captain) Lily Fuchs, putting the team up 2-0.

In the second period, junior Daniella Ort boosted the team to 3-0 on a clean wrist shot. But the Hawks would not give up so easily. HAFTR scored on what can be called a fluke goal as a Hawk accidentally hit a far shot and the ball ricocheted into the net. The visitors continued to put pressure on junior goalie Tamar Pasternak, but she stopped everything, leading to the final victory.

Ma’ayanot then faced off against HANC (3-6) in the first round of the playoffs on May 14, at home. In a wild game, the Rapids beat the Hurricanes in double overtime, 1-0, to advance to the next round.

The game was dominated by Ma’ayanot offensively. The HANC goalie made dozens of saves throughout the game and both overtime periods, many of which brought disbelieving gasps from the packed audience. But Ma’ayanot goalie Pasternak also stood her ground, sending back many shots as well.

After no scoring through regulation and the first overtime, both teams were exhausted but never relented in their play. Then, with less than four minutes to go in the second OT, HANC was called for a penalty. With the advantage, Fuchs launched a shot on goal that was saved. But Avidan followed up with a shot into the net (her first ever goal as a Rapid) to end the two hour match.

Ma’ayanot will play the winner of the Heschel vs. HAFTR playoff game.