This was the lacrosse equivalent of a rim-rocking, backboard-shattering dunk. In the Ivy League championship game last May, Princeton midfielder Tom Schreiber scored on a lefthanded shot so powerful that it tore through the net over the Yale goalie's left shoulder.
Talk about rip city. "I think that net might have been a little broken in. I'm not going to take too much credit for that," said Schreiber, the modest senior from East Meadow who starred at St. Anthony's. "I think I hit it in a good spot for something like that to happen. It's funny because I was confused when it first happened. I didn't know if it went in or not, but the ref said it was a goal. It was exciting and it was pretty funny, but I'm going to chalk that one up to the net having a little hole in it."
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There are no holes in Schreiber's game, however. "He's the complete package," Princeton coach Chris Bates said. Schreiber is considered a leading candidate for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the sport's most outstanding player, and was the first player taken in the Major League Lacrosse collegiate draft, by the Ohio Machine.
Postseason awards and a post-college career are not his top priority, however. Schreiber wants to lead Princeton into the Final Four. The Tigers' winning tradition is what attracted him in the first place, after stellar football and lacrosse careers on Long Island that ended with championships in both sports in his senior year.
It hasn't gone as smoothly in college, as the Tigers, considered a top 10-caliber team this year, have had mixed results in Schreiber's career. "I have no regrets. I would do it all over again," he said of choosing Princeton. "It didn't go exactly as I'd hoped in terms of success in the playoffs, but the experiences I've had and the people I've met have been incredible. Our team has a lot of work to do this year. It's a long journey, but of course the national championship is what we want."
Schreiber, a two-time All-American and the highest-scoring middie in Princeton history with 76 goals and 73 assists, will do his part. He is a dual offensive threat as both intimidating shooter and pinpoint passer. Plus he's a demon on ground balls and contributes on defense, too. "That's why I enjoy playing midfield so much," Schreiber said. "It's what drew me to the position when I started playing years and years ago. It's fun to get back and play some 'D', pick up a few ground balls and play in transition. Defense to offense is my favorite part of the game."
Bates, who had the difficult task of replacing iconic coach Bill Tierney, who won six NCAA titles and a spot in the Hall of Fame before leaving Princeton for Denver in 2009, raves about Schreiber's myriad talents. "He can create his own shot whenever he wants," Bates said. "He has tremendous field vision; he cuts well off the ball; picks up ground balls, can play defense. You name it, he does it. And his competitiveness is second to none."
That's why a future in professional lacrosse awaits Schreiber, who follows another Long Island Ivy Leaguer, Rob Pannell (Smithtown West, Cornell), who was the MLL's top college pick last year and already is an emerging star in that league. Pannell won the Tewaaraton, too, so there's a script for Schreiber to follow.
"I definitely want to keep playing lacrosse," said Schreiber, a history major with an interest in business, especially as it relates to the lacrosse boom. "It's been a big part of my life for so long and I'm excited about being the No. 1 overall pick . . . Teaching and coaching is down the road. For now, it's a great time to be in lacrosse and be part of the sport's growth."
And perhaps develop a patent for tougher-grade nets.