Bucks County Herald

CB East’s Schmidt steers Robert Morris ahead

DON LEYPOLDT



CB East’s Matt Schmidt led Robert Morris in scoring for the second straight year. The Colonials (13-5) finished 15th in the final Inside Lacrosse poll. Schmidt recorded eight points in an April 8, 2017 win over Wagner. In 2018, he registered eight points (four goals) in a March 3 victory over High Point.

Matt Schmidt has learned some painful lessons. Literally.

But the Robert Morris fifth-year senior attack wouldn’t have it any other way.

Before he led a nationally ranked lacrosse program in scoring, Central Bucks East’s Schmidt was a pitcher. Then a broken elbow changed his life. Unable to throw properly, Schmidt decided to try lacrosse.

“I played for Bill Bitzer and he showed me the basic fundamentals of lacrosse, like groundballs, how to catch, how to throw,” Schmidt remembered. “I wouldn’t be lying if I told you that I probably shot 15,000 lacrosse balls in my backyard over the next four years, all on what my coaches were telling me.”

Practice makes not perfect but very good. Schmidt had a distinguished career at CB East yet struggled early at Robert Morris.

He made lemonade from the lemons.

“My first two years completely changed me into the person who I am now. My freshman year, I fractured my spine playing. The first two years were definitely a grind. One of the years, we went 3-11,” Schmidt admitted. “The group of guys who came in with me had the mindset to know that things are going to be tough at times, but that is like anything in life. It’s not always going to go your way. So what are you going to do to change that?

“The mental side of rehab can be harder than the physical,” Schmidt continued. “Keeping your mind on track was most important because had I been a loose cannon in my head and said, ‘I can’t handle it and I need to get out of here,’ I would not be anywhere near the person I am today because all of these lessons that I have learned throughout the past four years. My teammates gave constant, positive energy.”

“His growth has been tremendous throughout his career here. He battled with a lot of adversity and injuries,” Robert Morris head coach Drew McMinn added, “but he turned the corner, to say the least, in the most positive way. You see him grow as a person and student. He is exactly what you hope for in your student-athlete as far as someone who pushes through the adversity and prevails in the end.”

Both Schmidt and the Colonials took big leaps forward. In 2017, Schmidt led Robert Morris in scoring and earned second-team all-Northeast Conference (NEC) recognition. This season, Schmidt again led the Colonials with 36 goals.

“There are a lot more things I can do from a physical aspect – I’m a feeder, a scorer and I’ll take middie shifts – but the mental side is where I see the biggest change,” Schmidt observed. “You’re on a mission every single day to be the best you can be, whereas in high school, it’s easy to go to the field, shoot around and figure out what you’re doing with your buddies after school. Now, it’s, ‘How can I make the guys on my left and right better than they were yesterday?’ ”

One of those ’mates is defenseman Mike Eveland, also a former CB East Patriot.

“We recruited Matt as an attackman and he was a shooter first coming out of high school,” McMinn recalled. “The biggest area where he has improved is maturity, first and foremost. He is so cool and calm in big-time situations that we know what we’re going to get out of him at all times. From a technical standpoint, he has always been in transition, but he got more involved in the 6-on-6 game and expanded the ways that he can put the ball in the back of the net.”

The Colonials won the NEC in 2018, avenging regular season losses to Bryant in the semifinals and St. Joseph’s in the final. Schmidt scored four goals in the two games.

“Anybody can beat anybody, right? I’m sure nobody expected us to beat Penn State,” Schmidt reminded. “I’m sure nobody expected us to be leading 6-3 at the half against the defending national champion. We don’t worry about who we are playing. That’s how we came out against Bryant. We did what we know how to do best and had fun.”

On May 9, Robert Morris doubled up Canisius, 12-6, for its first-ever NCAA tournament win. It took defending national champ Maryland to oust Robert Morris, 14-11, in the first round; Schmidt scored twice against the Terps.

“It feels unbelievable because you are part of something that is so big for a school and program. We couldn’t have been more thrilled to do it with this group of guys because we’re all so close,” Schmidt said. “Up and down this line-up, there isn’t a single guy returning who hasn’t bought into next year being an even better season than this year.”




www.buckscountyherald.com

Copyright ©2018 Bucks County Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.