Tom Schreiber is known for his laser-like focus on the field so it was out of character to see him wave to the crowd last Saturday as the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team hosted Rutgers.
But with Princeton senior All-American midfielder having just scored the 100th goal of his illustrious Tiger career, the fans on hand at Class of 52 Stadium serenaded him with cheers and he took a moment to acknowledge the response.
“I have had a lot of support here, my family has made it to just about every game,” said Schreiber, a 6’0, 190-pound native of East Meadow, N.Y..
“The Princeton community has treated me really well. It was a pretty cool experience hearing them roaring and I just wanted to give them a token of my gratitude.”
Schreiber had the crowd roaring all night as he matched his single game career high with seven points on four goals and three assists as the Tigers pulled away to a 15-11 win over the Scarlet Knights and improved to 5-4.
By the end of the evening, Schreiber stood at 101 career goals, making him the ninth Princeton player and second midfielder to reach 100. With 101, he is two behind Josh Sims’ record for a Princeton midfielder. Schreiber now has 92 assists, making him just the fifth player in Ivy League history — and the first midfielder — to have at least 100 career goals and 90 career assists.
With Princeton having dropped consecutive one-goal decisions to Brown and Yale coming into Saturday, Schreiber and his teammates showed a heightened sense of urgency.
“We have started every game slow so far and that is something we have been trying to address in practice,” said Schreiber.
“It was just a little shift in our attitude, to be a little more confident and a little more aggressive and I think it paid off for us.”
Trailing 6-3 in the second quarter, the Tigers shifted the tide of the contest, ending the half with a 5-0 run.
“We played smart offensively, we didn’t push it,” said Schreiber, who chipped in three assists in the run.
“I think our defense did a great job throughout the game, especially in that span. I think it was just a full team effort in that part of the game. It helped us build some confidence going into the half. It’s the beauty of our team, we have all been playing together for the most part for two years now and we have been able to build that chemistry. I don’t think it is just one or two guys, it’s all six of us working together.”
Princeton took care of business in the second half, extending its lead to 13-8 late in the third quarter and cruising from there.
“We just continued the momentum from that 5-0 run in the second quarter,” said Schreiber, who now has a team-high 44 points this season on 25 goals and 19 assists.
“I thought our bench kept us up, I thought our D did a good job. Once again, it was the entire team. The attitude of the team from the top to the bottom was great.”
There was a family twist to the win for Schreiber. “My sister actually goes to Rutgers so I root for them in every game except this one,” said a smiling Schreiber, whose younger sister, Chrissy, is a sophomore midfielder for the Scarlet Knights women’s lax team.
“I follow them and I have been rooting for them and obviously I root for my sister and her team. It was nice to get this one.”
In Schreiber’s view, it was critical for Princeton to get the win over Rutgers and break its two-game losing streak.
“It was huge; I have said it all year, there is no quit in this team,” said Schreiber.
“Nobody was feeling sorry for themselves after our loss to Brown. It was just more about regaining our momentum and regaining some confidence and I think that was a perfect game to do it and we got it done.”
Princeton head coach Chris Bates liked the way his team got things done in the victory over the Scarlet Knights as it retained the Harland Meistrell Cup, which goes to the winner of the annual meeting in the local rivalry.
“I thought we focused on playing the body; we focused on getting low and picking up ground balls with two hands,” said Bates.
“I thought we challenged them this week and they responded. I don’t think we are all the way there yet but this was good to get a gritty win and against a good team. We are pleased.”
Bates was pleased to see Schreiber receive the cheers from the crowd after the 100th goal.
“It is a testament to who he is, you see a genuine appreciation, respect and love for his accomplishments because he has earned it,” said Bates.
“He is just such a wonderful young man, people are happy for him. The air is rare; he is putting up some historic numbers. At the end of the day, he is proud of it, we are proud of it. He would probably be the first to tell you that a win is the most important thing and he wants to get this team to where it can get it, whatever that may be. It is something for our program that is nice to celebrate.”
In Bates’ view, Schreiber must assume an even greater role if Princeton is to make history this spring.
“This is the time for him to take the next step and help lead this team,” said Bates.
“He can carry a team on his back and, in essence, we are asking him to do that in some ways. He has got the full command of this team and the full respect. His voice goes a long way so we are challenging him to push his teammates around him to finish this thing the way we want to.”
Schreiber’s teammates did some good finishing during the pivotal 5-0 run in the second quarter.
“Ryan Ambler is playing with a lot of confidence and we are challenging him to evolve and be more assertive,” said Bates, who got a career-high five goals from Ambler with Jake Froccaro adding two, and Mike MacDonald, Will Himler, and Forest Sonnenfeldt contributing one apiece.
“Last year, he was at times comfortable playing second fiddle and now he is not. I thought Mikey did some good things. We shortened the bench a little bit with our first group but it seemed to work pretty well. Then we got Will Rotatori and Will Himler, and Forest Sonnenfeldt in with that second group and to spell those guys which helped us so it was a good 60 minutes.”
Bates will be looking for some more good efforts from the Tigers as they were slated to host Lehigh on April 8 before starting their Ivy stretch drive with a home game against Dartmouth on April 12.
“I think we have all learned that you can’t just put the jersey on; you have to be more accountable,” said Bates, whose team is tied for fifth in the Ivy standings with a 1-2 league mark.
“You have to be better teammates day in, day out and that is not always easy. I think it was a wakeup call and that’s been a good reminder. It is easier to move forward with a win. Everything is ahead of us; we know that. We have got one more non-conference game and then we have three league games. We’ll take it day by day.”
Schreiber, for his part, is confident that some great days are ahead for the Tigers.
“We have been trying to peak at the right time and the first part of our year didn’t go exactly the way we wanted it to,” said Schreiber. “Hopefully we can build on this and peak as time goes on.”