Continued from Part 1 – http://bit.ly/2lDCjR8
The coaching staff and front office were obviously onboard, but what about the other Rock players during the preseason?
‘’There was no animosity from anyone. It’s a new Toronto Rock team that was retooling so everybody was open to new ideas as they look to get back to its winning ways,’’ detailed Schreiber. ‘’A fresh start all around.’’
Did anyone go out of their way to make the new USA duo feel comfortable?
‘’Mikey Macdonald and I were college teammates at Princeton so he welcomed me in right away,’’ explained Schreiber. ‘’Can’t say enough about Brodie from a leadership standpoint. LeBlanc, Hickey, Beirnes also helped Kieran and I out. The coaching staff was also very patient, which definitely helps when you’re trying to learn.’’
Being a left handed shot, McArdle has learned a lot from fellow lefty Stephan LeBlanc:
Despite their LAX pedigree, the duo shared similar struggles getting used to box.
‘’The goalies wearing all the equipment compared to nothing in field was one of the major adjustments,’’ said Schreiber. ‘’Knowing where to shoot with the small openings and trusting your shot was tough.’’ McArdle also added, ‘’The NLL is faster and more physical than outdoors. Until you actually go out and do it you can’t fully prepare.’’
Repetition and studying video was vital for the development of the two young Americans. Tom and Kieran’s early success in the league can in part be credited to owner Jamie Dawick flying them up from New York together to the Rock’s world class TRAC facility for Tuesday practices.
‘’Having Kieran to travel with has 100% helped both of us in this transition,’’ Schreiber commented. ‘’We live five blocks apart on Long Island (NY) now. On the road we room together, eat together, compare notes and bounce ideas off each other.’’
He continued, ‘’I never knew or played with Kieran at any level growing up, but always admired his game.’’ McArdle agreed the time spent with one another during training camp forged a fast friendship as well as chemistry on the floor.
That comfort level must have done something because the two New Yorkers turned heads immediately as the 2017 campaign kicked off.
Schreiber’s vision on the turf and distribution abilities shone as he was credited with three assists and 11 shots in the opening weekend victory over Rochester. McArdle scored once and added two helpers, mentioning that his background in basketball helped him to create opportunities by boxing out defenders.
Since then Schreiber has become a sensation as a dual threat setup man and leads Toronto in points. Getting better each time out, McArdle continues to develop into a dangerous offensive weapon that can bury the ball from just about anywhere.
For Rock head coach Matt Sawyer, things couldn’t be going better for these rookies:
Brodie Merrill feels that the success of Schreiber and McArdle will influence other U.S. field players to try and get into the National Lacrosse League:
There is still plenty of season left to go, but right now the ‘’American Experiment’’ is exceeding all expectations. This story will be fascinating to follow.
Andy McNamara has been a play-by-play commentator for the NLL on TSN, NLLTV.com, and world lacrosse tournaments since 2011. He’s also a sport talk host and anchor on TSN 1050 sports radio. Follow Andy on twitter @AndyMc81.