BRIAN SCIARETTA - Sunday, March 18, 2012
Bryan Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona can clinch the title next weekend after playing to a draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv while Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya remain in contention for the Europa League

Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-2 Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona

In the final game before the playoffs, Kiryat Shmona earned a draw against second place Hapoel Tel Aviv and padded their lead to 17 points to put them on the verge of clinching an Israeli title.

Los Angeles native Bryan Gerzicich played a full 90 for Kiryat Shmona.

Hapoel Tel Aviv opened the scoring in the 31st minute when Roy Gordana shot from 20 yards deflected off a defender and headed towards goal. Kiryat Shmona keeper Danny Amos should have made the save after he appeared to have it in his grasp but he couldn't cleanly stop it and it tricked into the goal for a 1-0 Hapoel Tel Aviv lead.

The lead only lasted until the 43rd minute when Kiryat Shmona equalized with a beautiful goal. On the play captain Adrian Rochet chipped it over the defense for David Solari who then chipped it over Hapoel Tel Aviv keeper Apoula Edel to even the score at 1-1.

Just four minutes into the second half Kiryat Shmona would take the lead when Rochet again hit a beautiful pass to set up a goal. Rochet hit a perfect through pass that hit Shimon Abuhatzira at the edge of the box who turned and hit a powerful shot past Edel for a 2-1 lead.

Shay Abutbul pulled Hapoel Tel Aviv even at 2-2 when he hit a magnificent swerving free kick from 30 yards past Amos in the 58th minute.

The win now puts Kiryat Shmona 17 points clear of second place Hapoel Tel Aviv and they have the chance to clinch next week with a win and a Hapoel Tel Aviv loss or tie. Next week begins the first of the seven rounds of the playoffs among the top eight teams.

Kiryat Shmona visit Maccabi Netanya in the quarterfinals of the Israeli State Cup on Wednesday.

Maccabi Netanya 3-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv

Maccabi Netanya's hunt for a Europa League birth is very much alive after a 3-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday at Sar Tov Stadium.

Former University of California star Leo Krupnik started and went the distance for Maccabi Netanya.

After a scoreless half, Ahmad Saba'a gave Maccabi Netanya a 1-0 lead when he pounced on a poor clearance and hammered home a shot from 12 yards

Saba'a picked up his second goal in the 64th minute when he scored one of the best goals of season in Israel. He collected the ball in the midfield and dribbed up the middle through four Maccabi Tel Aviv defenders and beat keeper Guy Haimov for a 2-0 lead.

In the 86th minute, Firas Mugrabi put the game out of reach for Maccabi Netnaya when he took a chip pass and went in alone against Haimov. He moved in and hit a perfectly placed low shot into the net for a 3-0 lead.

Maccabi Netanya is now even on points for third place heading into the seven round playoffs.

Maccabi Netanya host Kiryat Shmona on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Israeli State Cup.


Ryan Adeleye did not dress for Hapoel Be'er Sheva in their 2-1 win over Hapoel Rishon LeZion on Saturday.