Former Tiger Men’s Lax Star Schreiber Fought Through Injury, Earning 2nd Gold Medal as US Repeated as World Champions
REPEAT PERFORMANCE: Team USA star midfielder and co-captain Tom Schreiber, left, races past a Canadian defender in the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship in San Diego, Calif. Former Princeton University standout Schreiber ’14 helped the U.S. win its second straight world title as it defeated Canada 10-7 in the gold medal game on July 1. Although Schreiber missed three and a half games in the tournament due to injury, he still tallied five points on three goals and two assists in the competition. (Photo by USA Lacrosse)
By Bill Alden
Coming into the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship in late June, Tom Schreiber figured to play a leading role in orchestrating the offense for the U.S. squad.
Former Princeton University standout midfielder Schreiber helped the U.S. win the title in the 2019 World Championship, scoring the winning goal in the waning seconds of a 9-8 win over Canada in the gold medal game. Schreiber’s skill, experience, and leadership led him to be named as one of the captains of the U.S. team for this year’s competition.
As the U.S. got ready to face arch-rival Canada in the opening game of pool play, Schreiber felt things were coming together for the team in the whirlwind competition which saw the U.S. play seven games in 10 days.
“It is actually a pretty quick turnaround. I think we played them on a Wednesday night and we got there on Monday or something like that,” said the 6’1, 200-pound Schreiber, a 2014 Princeton alum who turned 31 in February. “We had a four-day camp at Duke and played against each other the weekend right before and then were teammates a day and a half later, and a day and half after that we are taking on Canada. It is an interesting mental experiment. We became a team pretty quickly and really jelled. You spend a whole bunch of time together with little distraction. It was awesome.”
After tallying two assists to help the U.S. top Canada 7-5 in the opener of Pool A play on June 21, Schreiber faced a major distraction two days later as he took a knock in a 12-3 win over Australia and was sidelined due to concussion protocol.
As a result, Schreiber didn’t play in the team’s final two Pool A games (wins over the Haudenosaunee and England) or its 19-3 win over Israel in the quarterfinals on June 28.
“I ended up missing three and half games; I had to play a little bit of a different role which I was happy to do,” said Schreiber. “It was a little different experience for me. But in some ways being slightly removed from playing for half a tournament you are able to see things from a different vantage point and really appreciate the guys on the team, the tournament, the scope of it all and just take it all in.”
Schreiber returned to action to help the U.S. defeat Australia 11-2 in a semifinal contest on June 29 as it earned a gold medal game rematch against Canada.
“It was tough coming back as well, getting back out there and trying to be confident and trying to be aggressive,” said Schreiber. “I was over the moon to be able to get out there again. It is not lost on me how special it is and how much of a privilege it is to play at that stage. I will take any game I can get. To miss a few and then be able to come back, it just helps you appreciate it that much more.”
In the final on July 1, Schreiber scored a first quarter goal to help the U.S. jump out to a 2-0 lead and it never trailed as it went on to a 10-7 win and its second straight world crown, becoming the first team to earn a title repeat since 2002 when the Americans won their sixth straight crown.
“We felt ready, we felt prepared; it is so unique because you know that game is more than likely coming,” said Schreiber. “They are a very, very good team. You don’t really know what to expect in terms of how they are going to play, whether it is different matchups, tactics, or whatever. The stakes are as high as they can get in that game, so it is very different from the pool play game. We were dealing with a bunch of injuries, I am sure they were too. It is a pretty amazing feeling going into those games, but once it gets started it feels exactly the same. As that game goes on, you realize ‘oh man, this is the world championship’ and that time is ticking down. You want to make the right plays.”
One of the highlights of the worlds for Schreiber was getting the opportunity to play with Michael Sowers, who followed him as Princeton’s go-player, and Brennan O’Neill, a standout at St. Anthony’s (N.Y.), Schreiber’s high school alma mater.
“It was great, it was very cool for me,” said Schreiber. “It was similar running midfield with Michael and Brennan. Michael, in a lot of ways, was the next guy at Princeton after me. Brennan, in some ways, was the same at St Anthony’s. I have a similar relationship with both of those guys. I am the old guy — it was very, very cool for me to play that role for those two in particular.”
It was very cool for Schreiber to get a goal in the final. “It was good for to get my feet under me a little bit; we did a test run in the semis and played a little bit, not as much as I normally would,” said Schreiber. “It was certainly not the role I normally would have. It was nice for me to get on the board early just to kind of build some confidence. As the game went on, I felt more and more comfortable. I was just happy to do whatever I could.”
Schreiber was happy to see one of his proteges, O’Neill, tally five goals against Canada.
“He was the hot hand; the way we approached the tournament is that we didn’t really care who it is going to be,” said Schreiber. “It is great. If it is somebody else out there, we want to continue to go to him and open things up for him, whether it is getting him the ball in opportune places or setting good picks or cutting through. We were prepared to do that. We had the personnel where it could have been any one of the nine of us who could have been that guy.”
The U.S. had a lot of good personnel on its defensive unit as it yielded just four goals a game in the tourney.
“They were incredible, every single matchup is a nightmare for the offense,” said Schreiber. “Our shortsticks were amazing and then if you have to do all of that hard work to get past the defense, you have to deal with Blaze Riorden in goal which has got to be very frustrating. That is not lost on us for a second. Those guys were incredible. They were the backbone of the team, it was great playing with them.”
For Schreiber, the experience of playing in his second straight world tourney and earning another crown was incredible.
“It is just gratitude at the end of the day being part of it; it is so different from any other level of lacrosse just because you are living with these guys,” said Schreiber, who ended up with five points in the tournament on three goals and two assists. “You are eating in a cafeteria every meal and living in the dorms, playing cards at night. You are like a little kid at camp again. We really did come together as a team especially. I would have been thankful for the experience even if we didn’t win. To get the victory, that is what it is all about. It is the cherry on top of that experience. It was amazing, I feel really grateful at the end of it. I was happy that we had a little more wiggle room than the last time.”
Looking ahead, Schreiber would be more than happy to be on the U.S. squad for the 2027 worlds competition.
“I would love to, it is something that is definitely a goal of mine,” said Schreiber, who was recently chosen as the No. 1 player in the world by an Inside Lacrosse poll. “I would be a more senior player on that team, without a doubt. I do think there are advantages to having the experience, knowing what to expect. Hopefully I am still at the top of my game at that point, we’ll see.”
Over the rest of the summer, Schreiber will be focused on earning another title as he leads the Archers in the Premier Lacrosse League.
“We feel really good about our team, like everybody else, every week is a little bit different,” said Schreiber, who scored six points on a two-point goal along with two goals and two assists as the Archers edged the Waterdogs 19-18 in Dallas, Texas last Sunday in a first-place showdown, moving to 5-1 on the season.
“You are trying to get better. There are some rule changes this year, us included, everyone has to figure it out. It has been really fun, I really like where our team is at.”