Hall of Fame Inductee: Matt Striebel
A two-sport athlete at Princeton, Matt Striebel played lacrosse like a soccer player. In MLL offseasons, Striebel played three years of professional soccer from 2002-04 for the Western Massachusetts Pioneers of the USL Second Division.
“His fitness level was just off the charts,” said former Philadelphia Barrage head coach Tony Resch. “He could keep going and going. He had great speed. He could shoot it. Unselfish. All the things you look for in a midfielder, he had it.”
While Resch and most fans may remember Striebel as a lights-out shooter, that wasn’t always the case. Prior to his senior year at Princeton, Striebel was an X attackman. When freshman Ryan Boyle stepped on campus, Striebel was moved above GLE – where, Boyle jokes, his shot couldn’t break a paper bag.
“He completely reinvented himself, starting with his senior year at Princeton moving from behind the cage out in front to midfield,” said Boyle, who also played with Striebel on the Philadelphia Barrage. “His dedication to his craft is truly remarkable. Going from somebody who didn’t really have much range to speak of at all to being somebody who you had to pick up at 16 yards… he was unguardable.”
That work ethic led to a 171-game career. Striebel evolved to earn playing time on the ‘04 Barrage midfield unit featuring Blake Miller (46G, 11A), Roy Colsey (25G, 6T, 7A), Mike Mollot (11G, 8A), and Doug Shanahan (12G, 6A).
Striebel stuck the eventual game-winning goal in the ‘04 MLL Championship for that Barrage squad. He did the same in ‘07 on a broken powerplay – Boyle’s favorite shot of Striebel’s 15-year pro career.
Need @Ryan_Boyle14's breakdown of this 3-3 power play rotation. Unfortunately he's not in the booth – he's busy feeding Matt Striebel. pic.twitter.com/jusUZ5FAPV— Joe (BC WLAX 1-0) Keegan (@joekeegs) January 22, 2022
Championship Weekend was when Striebel elevated his game. Perhaps it was the aforementioned fitness; as opponents cramped up on the second day of a back-to-back, Striebel strode by at full speed. The Barrage won three championships (‘04, ‘06, ‘07) in that era, and Striebel earned Championship MVP honors in both ‘06 and ‘07.
Striebel studied Colsey’s shot to extend his range and, in turn, extend his career. Twenty of his 23 career 2-point goals came a decade into his pro career from 2011-13 with the Rochester Rattlers. Only 11 pros ever have hit 20 two-bombs. Striebel did it in three years in his 30s.
As he added elements to his game, Striebel’s stayed true to his roots. His conditioning from soccer remained elite. And his vision as an X attackman translated above the cage. With 127 career assists, Striebel ranks 16th all-time – only four other midfielders (Joe Walters, Paul Rabil, Ned Crotty, Tom Schreiber) have cracked 100 career assists.
The evolution of Matt Striebel – from someone who could run by anyone to his sweet spot to a guy who turned the entire field into his sweet spot – embodies what it means to be a professional lacrosse player. And now, he's a Professional Lacrosse Hall of Famer.