Tom Schreiber’s reputation precedes him. Then again, that’s what happens when you’re a two-time first All-American, the 2013 Midfielder of the Year and one of several favorites for the 2014 Tewaaraton Award, which is the lacrosse version of the Heisman Trophy.
And so No. 9 Johns Hopkins is spending a considerable amount of time this week trying to craft a game plan for limiting the senior, who will be part of a No. 6 Princeton team (2-0) that welcomes the Blue Jays (3-0) to the Class of 1952 Stadium in Princeton, N.J.
In three career games against Johns Hopkins, Schreiber has registered eight goals and three assists. But as coach Dave Pietramala explained Wednesday, the team’s focus can’t be centered solely on Schreiber even if he does lead the Tigers in points (10) and is tied for the team lead in assists (six).
“[I]t’s not just the Tom Schreiber show, and if it was, then it would be a lot easier to defend them because you could put all your focus on him and say, ‘OK, we’re not going to worry about the other guys,’” Pietramala said. “The problem is, you have to focus on Tom Schreiber, and oh by the way, they have plenty of other guys that can do the job.”
To illustrate his point, Pietramala noted that junior attackman Mike MacDonald leads Princeton in goals with five. Sophomore attackman Ryan Ambler is tied with Schreiber for the team lead in assists, and even though sophomore midfielder Jake Froccaro has scored only two goals thus far, he recorded two goals and two assists in the Tigers’ 11-8 victory over Johns Hopkins on March 1.
“So the challenge for us is not to just play Tom Schreiber,” Pietramala insisted. “We’re going to have to play good seven-man defense – the goalie and the other six players on the field. We’re going to have to do a really good job of understanding the things they’re trying to do. They run a unique offense. So we’re going to have to really do a good job there. We’re going to have to be very alert off the ball because they do a great job of taking advantage of you off the ball and occupying you. So it is a formidable challenge and probably our most difficult one to date.”
The Blue Jays have already tangled with one top-flight midfielder, and junior Jesse King posted five goals and one assist in then-No. 13 Ohio State’s 10-9 triple overtime loss on Feb. 9. But Pietramala, who evaluated Schreiber during the tryout process for Team USA during the offseason, said Schreiber is a different animal.
“What they both are, is big kids,” Pietramala said. “But Tommy Schreiber is a much more athletic player. I think they play very different styles athletically. … I will say this: they both pass the ball and shoot the ball very well. So it’s the same level of challenge, but a different kind. They present different challenges to the people that are covering them.”