ANDY SCHREUR - Thursday, May 9, 2013
Bryan Gerzicich and Ironi Kiryat Shmona were unable to hold the lead and fell on penalties to Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Ramat Gan 1-1 (4-2) Kiryat Shoma
Gerzicich started and played 120 minutes as the defending champions were unable to bring home a trophy this season. Instead, the relegated Ramat Gan secured their first Israeli State Cup in club history.
The Blue Lions shot out of the gate and seized the lead through Shimon Abuhatzira's goal in the 17th minute and looked to be in line to win their first ever State Cup trophy.
However, a lapse in defense saw Omer Buksenbaum score only his second of the season and Ramat Gan drew even with the Blue Lions.
Kiryat Shmona had several chances to take the lead in the second half but Abuhatzira narrowly missed over the bar in the 74th minute and the match went into extra time.
In the 110th minute, Ramat Gan midfielder Ofir Hemo received his second yellow card for intentionally handling a ball and denying a scoring opportunity. The Blue Lions pressed hard with the one man advantage but Ramat Gan remained stout in defense and forced the match into penalty kicks.
In the shootout, Ramat Gan was perfect while Dan Einbender struck the bar and veteran Salah Hasarsma missed wide for the Blue Lions. The final ended 4-2 and sent the relegated Ramat Gan off to celebrate a bittersweet end to the season.
Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona will try to move on when they face Maccabi Haifa on Saturday at home. The defending champions faltered at the end of their Israeli league campaign and missed out on a Europa League spot. The American defensive midfielder has only two matches remaining on his current contract and his destination this summer is yet to be determined.