BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday was a great day for Americans in Israel as Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya advanced to the Israeli Cup semifinals while Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Kiryat Shmona did the same.
Maccabi Netanya 1-1 Ashdod (pen. 4-1)
Maccabi Netanya earned a dramatic equalizer in the 80th minute then prevailed in penalties over Ashdod to advance to the semifinals of the Israeli State Cup on Wednesday.
American central defender Leo Krupnik played the full 120 minutes for Maccabi Netanya in the victorious effort.
Ashdod did not take long to get on the scoreboard as Dimitar Makriev took advantage of a poor Netanya clearance from Mariano Caporale and sent in a slow high-arching shot that went over goalkeeper Carlos Arias's reach to give Ashdod a 1-0 lead.
The game stayed deadlocked until the 80th minute when Maccabi Netanya's Firas Mugrabi received a terrific through ball from Nir Nachum and moved in all alone against Ashdod's goalkeeper Yossi Shekel. Mugrabi fired a low shot that beat Shekel to the right side and the score was level at 1-1.
After 30 minutes of extra time, the game would be forced into penalties to decide the winner.
With each team converting their first kick, Arias made saves in the next two rounds while the Netanya penalty takers did not miss.
In the end Maccabi Netanya won penalties 4-1 and advanced to the Israeli State Cup finals to be played next month.
Maccabi Netanya also qualified for the Champions playoffs as a result of their top six finish in the league. They will open the first round of the six-team round robin playoffs on Saturday when they travel to face Maccabi Haifa.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 1 – 0 Hapoel Ra'anana
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona dominated possession against second division Hapoel Ra'anana and were able to let a single goal be the difference as they advance to the Israel State Cup semi-finals for the first time in the team's history with a 1-0 victory.
Defensive midfielder Bryan Gerzicich played a full 90 for the victorious Kiryat Shmona.
As the last second division team remaining in the State Cup, Hapoel Ra'anana took a defensive approach to game as they were outmatched against Kiryat Shmona who finished in fourth place in the Premier League.
After a scoreless second half, Kiryat Shmona broke through the bunker when they capitalized on a Hapoel Ra'anana turnover in the midfield.
Kiryat Shmona forward Wiyam Amashe collected the ball just inside his own half and dribbled 25 yards. When he was just outside the box, he unleashed an unstoppable right footed shot that beat Hapoel Ra'anana goalkeeper Neil Abarbanel to top right of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
From that point, Hapoel Ra'anana were unable to come close to an equalizer and the final whistle would sound with Kiryat Shmona advancing to next month's Israeli State Cup semifinals 1-0.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona will return to action this Saturday when they take on Maccabi Tel Aviv in the League playoffs. Kiryat Shmona qualified for the playoffs when they finished in fourth place in the Israeli Premier League and the top six make the round-robin playoffs.