Why Tom Schreiber should be the 2023 PLL MVP

By Zach Carey

Aug 22, 2023

The Archers Lacrosse Club’s dominant 16-11 victory over the Whipsnakes on Friday evening clinched them the no. 1 seed in this year’s playoffs with another regular season weekend still to go. The club’s 8-1 record thus far is a full two games ahead of the Waterdogs and Cannons in second place and is the best regular season in the team’s five season history. Their +28 scoring differential is a full eight points better than the Cannons in second, and is 18 or more points better than the rest of the league.

At the heart of that success has been Tom Schreiber and what has been one of the best seasons of his career. He dealt with early season injuries, played through them, and has rounded into his typically elite form over the past four weeks of play. 

Schreiber has been a perennial MVP finalist, but this season is different. This year he should be the PLL’s Jim Brown MVP, and this is why.

Tom Schreiber is the best player on the best team in the PLL

Is it really any more complicated than that? The Archers have blown their competition out of the water from a record standpoint and are two playoff wins away from the club’s first championship. Schreiber has been the league’s highest scoring offense’s driving force, and his impact has never been more significant on the field. 

Schreiber is tied for third in the league in points at 36, which is 12 more than any other midfielder through nine games. He’s fifth in assists, 10th in 1-point goals, and is one of just 15 players with multiple 2-point scores. The two-time MVP also averages just 1.4 turnovers per game which is a career-low and is particularly impressive considering his sky high usage rate. 

“I definitely think he’s this year’s league MVP,” said Connor Fields of Schreiber after the Whipsnakes win last Friday. “He’s always such a crucial part of our team, but this year in particular he steps up when we need him to step up. Every game he’s consistently leading our team. There’s a lot of great players in this league, but in my eyes it’s Tom.”

Schreiber’s game-winning goal against Atlas in Baltimore was perhaps the crowning jewel on his MVP campaign, emphasizing that he’s undoubtedly at his very best after a (relatively) quieter start to the season while he was hindered due to injury. His 3.4 points per game through the first five weekends of the season has jumped to 4.0 after he put up 19 in the last four contests. 

Schreiber’s strengths are extremely versatile and impressively adaptable 

It’s especially impressive that Schreiber has produced at such a high level coming out of the box on typically shorter offensive possessions due to the 32-second shot clock. Midfielders (and especially those on clubs with elite faceoff specialists such as Mike Sisselberger) are at even more of a disadvantage relative to attackmen. But there have been zero signs of that impacting Schreiber. 

If anything, the shorter clock has separated Schreiber as a midfielder who can initiate offense and generate scoring opportunities in a timely manner. The Archers are well established as the PLL’s best 32-second offense, and their absurd 30.7% efficiency on such possessions is due in large part to how Schreiber can create early offense. 

On Friday, he scored a pair of goals in 32-second offense against the Whipsnakes on nearly identical plays. He came out of the box as the last of the Archers’ three midfielders, initiated a two-man game with Grant Ament up top, and then split to his left and scored on the run on both possessions.

It’s plays like this that make Schreiber un-guardable and so valuable in 32-second offense. He can split to either hand confidently, and he scored that goal lefty while fading away from the middle of the field. He also has the burst coming out of a dodge to create the separation necessary to get his hands free. His understanding of how to use a pick and how to set his defender up to expect him to go one way before the other are additionally terrifying for opposing defenses. 

Schreiber has become the Archers’ leader

Beyond the on field product, Schreiber’s role as the leader of this Archers squad cements him as the most valuable player in the PLL. 

That’s not to say he hasn’t been a leader in the past. But the roster overhaul that the Archers went through this offseason left Schreiber as the club’s most veteran presence. Marcus Holman, Will Manny, Dominique Alexander, Scott Ratliff, and Adam Ghitelman are all long gone. But that somehow hasn’t stunted Schreiber or the club from having a historically successful season, and the team’s lone captain has had an immeasurable impact off the field that has built the foundation for that success on it. 

“He’s such a great player, and what’s even better is how good of a person and teammate he is,” added Fields on Friday night. “One thing I think that goes a little bit unnoticed is that we lost a lot of leadership on the field and in the locker room [this offseason]. Tom, he was a leader last year and a leader every year, but this year he’s even more of a leader.” 

“Tom’s a consummate leader,” commented Archers Lacrosse Club Head Coach and General Manager Chris Bates. “It’s a different locker room than it was last year. His role has elevated in terms of his voice. It’s been fun to watch. He doesn’t get too high or too low. When he speaks everyone listens. Then game in, game out, he makes those plays that set the tone for you. He’s having a really good year, an MVP year.”

Schreiber will do anything to win

Schreiber’s commitment to winning is unparalleled, never made more apparent than when he dove in front of a Jesse Bernhardt two-pointer against Chrome a week and a half ago. After hustling back on defense to prevent transition, Schreiber selflessly threw his body in the way of the goal as Bernhardt wound up. Fortunately for him, the shot sailed high, but the willingness to put his body on the line indicates just what type of player he is. 

“That’s a 31 year old vet,” Bates said, chuckling about Schreiber’s decision on that play. “The game was essentially in hand. But when he has that kind of effort, that sets the tone for everybody and it’s not lost on our staff or our team even a little bit.” 

There is no shortage of elite talent nor MVP-caliber players in the PLL. But what has set the Archers and Tom Schreiber apart from the rest of the pack this season has been their cohesiveness on and off the field. Schreiber is the epitome of that, always working to make his team and teammates better in whatever capacity necessary, and that’s why he should be the league’s 2023 MVP. 

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