Schneider-Adams rivalry a special one

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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They are never within 100 yards from each other on the lacrosse field. But that hasn’t stopped goalkeepers Doc Schneider and Drew Adams from engaging in a highly-entertaining one-on-one battle for each of the last four years.

It’s a friendly rivalry that has produced four brutally-frustrating games for offenses, countless acrobatic saves, 106 denied shots and has seen two young goalkeepers develop into two of the premier stoppers in the country.

Every time UMass’ Doc Schneider and Penn State‘s Drew Adams line up across from each other, a game of can-you-top-this ensues. And you can tell that both savor the opportunity when the Minutemen and Nittany Lions face off in the yearly ECAC battle.

The two don’t really know each other personally, but they are certainly familiar with the other’s skill sets, and it’s a rivalry built upon pure respect and admiration.

‘I think Doc is actually a little underrated ‘- he should be getting more publicity than he does,’ Adams said of his counterpart. ‘I think he’s the best goalie that I’ve played against in college. There are a lot of things I admire about him in the way that he plays.’

Schneider recalls having a great respect for Adams before he came to Amherst, before Adams had even heard of Doc.

‘It’s fun because he came in as a highly-recruited kid and I was kind of under the radar, so I kind of always looked up to him,’ Schneider said. ‘It’s obviously made me step up, because I know every time he’s on the field, he’s going to make a bunch of saves.’

Isn’t that the truth? In four career meetings, the dueling duo has produced seven double-digit save efforts, 50-plus saves apiece, an epic overtime encounter, four close and riveting games and never let the opposing offense score in double-figures.

Yeah, they’re pretty good.

‘Two of the best goalies in the country in my opinion ‘- no doubt about it,’ said UMass coach Greg Cannella on Saturday, following Schneider’s third-career win over Adams. ‘And both of them have been very consistent throughout their entire careers and that’s what makes a great goalie in my mind.’

Penn State coach Glenn Thiel couldn’t help but smile when asked what it’s been like to see those two guys go at it.

‘They’re two of the best,’ he said. ‘They’re competitors and I think they rise to the challenge a little bit.’

Saturday’s 9-8 final was the highest-scoring affair in the rivalry. They’ve certainly frustrated more than a few offenses in their careers. Facing off against a goalkeeper that good is something that teams hate to have to prepare for.

‘When you face a goalie like that you really have to prepare for that goalie. You can’t just go into the game and say ‘Hey, we gotta shoot it there, or here,” Cannella said. ‘You have to say, ‘Hey, this is where this guy’s great.’ And let’s try to find out where he’s not. And it’s really hard to do that with those two.’

It was especially difficult for anyone trying to score on either of them in the 2007 meeting. In a game that went to overtime, Adams (20) and Schneider (15) combined for 35 saves as both teams had no answer for the goalkeepers in a 6-5 UMass win.

Both considered that to be perhaps the best game that they’ve ever played. It usually seems that way when they face off. Schneider relishes watching Adams play every chance he gets.

‘It’s always fun playing against him, because of the saves going back and forth. Obviously you’re in the middle of the game, but some of the saves he makes I’m like, ‘How did he even make that?” Schneider said. ‘It puts a little pressure on you but it brings out the best in each one of us.’

Schneider and Adams have certainly changed the UMass-Penn State rivalry. In the four games, the teams have combined for a total of 52 goals. Before they got to college, the Minutemen and the Nittany Lions combined for 51 goals ‘hellip; in just two games and 97 goals in four games while they were still in high school.

In the four meetings Schneider has had a bit of an edge. Never mind the three wins to Adams‘ one, the UMass leader also has more saves (55 to 51) and fewer goals allowed (25 to 27).

So who’s better?

Schneider wouldn’t commit one way or the other.

‘Any given day, anyone can play,’ he said. ‘He’s great. He’s been awesome.’

Adams echoed that sentiment.

‘Obviously he’s every talented, you can see that he’s a huge leader on that team and has been ever since he’s been a freshman,’ Adams said. ‘That’s something I kind of admire. You can tell he has control of his team and his defense. Not only does he lead by example, but he also leads with his character and what he seems to do for his team.’

Respect goes all-around for these guys ‘- from the coaches, the goalies and all the players on UMass and Penn State.

They just want these guys to graduate already.‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]