U.S. Stuns Canada on Schreiber's 'Schoolyard' Finish

PHOTO BY ADAM SCOTT

Tom Schreiber (13) is swarmed by teammates Trevor Baptiste (9), Marcus Holman (9) and Jordan Wolf (31) after scoring the game-winning goal with 0.2 seconds remaining in Team USA's 9-8 win over Canada in the FIL World Championship final at Netanya Stadium.


NETANYA, Israel — Dear America, while you were sleeping, something incredible happened.

On the 10th day, in the seventh game and 560th minute and with 0.2 seconds remaining in the FIL World Championship, Tom Schreiber etched his name in lacrosse lore.

With the U.S. and Canada knotted at eight goals apiece, Schreiber, who had just misfired on a potential game-winner, reset himself in front of the goal, came off a screen set by Ned Crotty and found the sliver of space needed for Rob Pannell to shovel a pass in his direction. Schreiber caught it with his right hand on the left side and released it in the nick of time, beating Canada goalie and U.S. nemesis Dillon Ward to lift Team USA to a 9-8 victory in the gold medal game Saturday at Netanya Stadium.

“Schoolyard,” Schreiber said. “Rob’s a sick player. He had his head right up. He put it in a good spot and we made it happen.”

History always has two sides, however. And for Canada, an asterisk will forever mark this world championship.

How much time really was left? And did Canada really jump offside?

In the frenzied final minutes and seconds, and right up until the post-game press conference, those questions remained unanswered.

“Yeah, um, heh, chaos,” Canada coach Randy Mearns replied when asked to decipher what transpired. “Players play. Coaches coach. Referees referee. It kind of felt to us that there was nine seconds on the clock, the play started and the clock didn’t move for four seconds. And then all of a sudden it went on, it went on, it went on. And then Team USA took a shot and there was four seconds, and we’re like, ‘How come we’re not already at zero?’ They got another look and scored with one second left. It was just chaotic down there. I don’t know what else to tell you.”







The chaos started after Mark Cockerton scored on a low-angle sidewinder from the right side to put Canada ahead 8-7 with 5:17 remaining.

Team USA’s Trevor Baptiste won the ensuing faceoff, but had the ball knocked out of his stick as he tried to exit the scrum. Canada gained possession, but stepped offside, according to the officials. The controversial call led to a sustained U.S. possession that ended in attackman Ryan Brown’s third goal of the game, a low-to-high laser from the slot courtesy of a feed from midfielder Paul Rabil.

“We didn’t feel that we were offside,” Mearns said. “We were going to get it and hold it too. We don’t know what happens with that. We’ll watch the video. Were we offside or not? We’ll figure that out when we watch it.”

Baptiste won the next faceoff and the U.S. called timeout. Pannell had the ball knocked away when play resumed, but Canada was called for a loose ball push with 1:45 remaining.

The U.S. misfired three times in the final minute. Rabil and attackman Jordan Wolf both missed high, as did Schreiber, with four seconds remaining — according to the official time kept on the field, which differed from that on the scoreboard and on the ESPN broadcast.

Pannell picked the ball up off the end line, crept toward the goal and saw Schreiber streaking in front.

“Head’s always up. I saw the clock, and it said two seconds on the field,” Pannell said. “Tom caught it and he buried it. That’s everything. You’re not really thinking about the clock. You’re just thinking about, ‘I’ve got to make a play quick.’ That’s what we’ve been trained to do.”

“We kind of locked eyes,” Schreiber said. “Rob couldn’t have made a better pass.”

And so ended the latest chapter in the storied U.S.-Canada rivalry. Canada’s coaches and players implored the officials to reconsider allowing Schreiber’s goal. In their eyes, this game should have gone to overtime.

The teams’ round-robin encounter last Sunday also featured some late-game intrigue, as Canada went man-up in the final minute after U.S. faceoff specialist Greg Gurenlian’s stick was deemed illegal, the stick check coming at the behest of Mearns. Team USA held on for an 11-10 victory in that one.

“I got a sense of it [Sunday] night, for sure. As soon as we got off the bus, you could feel the heat,” U.S. coach John Danowski said. “Today was different. Today was both teams desperately wanted to win. The game was played very intently but very differently than [Sunday] night. They were the champs two out of the last three tournaments. So for us, we look up to them. We see them as setting the standard.

“They played with poise. They’re tough, hard-working guys and people that we want to be like, that we emulate. It’s an honor to compete against them. Both days, it’s a one-goal difference. We’re delighted that we were able to come out on top, but we know that a couple plays either way, we could have lost one or both games.”

The U.S. jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Canada — with its symphony of isolation moves, backdoor cuts, pinpoint feeds and pretty finishes — scored four unanswered goals to close out the first quarter.

It was 6-4 Canada at halftime. Neither team ever led by more than two goals.

The U.S. scored the only two goals of the third quarter to tie the game at 6, as Canada appeared to tire. Canada held the ball for the final possession in both the second and third quarters, and the U.S. defense buckled down both times.

As the teams entered the field for the final 20 minutes, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” blared loudly over the speakers at Netanya Stadium.

It looked like the luck was on Canada’s side when attackman Curtis Dickson drew U.S. short-stick defensive midfielder Kevin Unterstein on a switch behind the goal, sprinted forward and spiked a backhanded goal off the ground to give the Canadians a 7-6 lead with 18:51 remaining.

But the U.S. answered a little more than two minutes later. Midfielder Matt Danowski found Schreiber with space in the middle of the field, Schreiber’s quick release beating the slide and Ward to tie the game at 7.

Both teams got tight as the game wound down to fewer than 10 minutes remaining. Canada committed a turnover, and then the U.S did the same. Then Canadian attackman Jeff Teat unleashed a rocket that hit the crossbar, only for the U.S. to give the ball back when Schreiber couldn’t handle a Danowski feed inside.

Cockerton’s goal ended a 13-minute scoring drought for Canada. Then all hell broke loose. The offside call, Brown’s equalizer, three barely errant shots from the U.S. and then Schreiber’s forever moment—it all happened seemingly in the blink of an eye. The U.S. stormed the field to celebrate. After several minutes of protest from the Canadian coaches and players, officials ruled that there were 0.2 seconds remaining. The final faceoff was elementary.

“It’s tough to lose any way. But in the final seconds, when we thought we were going to overtime, they made a play,” Dickson said. “I’m still trying to process it.”

Schreiber, positioned earlier this year as the “best player in the world” on the covers of both US Lacrosse and Inside Lacrosse magazines, is a second-generation gold medalist. His father, Doug, won a world championship with the U.S. in 1974.

Throughout its two weeks in Israel, the U.S. team stayed in Shefayim, a kibbutz located about a 20-minute drive south of the FIL World Championship hub in Netanya. There, the players and coaches bonded over kosher meals, team meetings held under a tree in a courtyard and candid interactions with locals who run the surf shop and hotel. They conducted daily film reviews in a conference room, where they also heard from Duke and Team USA basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski as well as Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn.

The kibbutz served the U.S. so well that when the players were granted leave to be with family and friends during Team USA’s quarterfinal bye Wednesday, Schreiber decided to stay behind.

“It’s just being on a team again,” said Schreiber, the two-time Major League Lacrosse MVP with the Ohio Machine and 2017 NLL Rookie of the Year with the Toronto Rock. “Your first year out of college, your rookie year in the MLL, it’s great. And then after that, you’re lost a little bit, because it’s the first time you’re not on a team since you were 6 years old. You’re not meeting and practicing every week. When you have that feeling, when you have the kibbutz and everybody around, you savor it.”

Now Schreiber has a moment he can savor for the rest of his life.

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