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Past and Present: MLL great Matt Striebel set for alumni game while MLL rookie Jarrod Neumann readies for playoffs

By Adam Hargraves, 08/10/17, 3:00PM EDT

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When Matt Striebel met Jarrod Neumann in the parking lot of Northampton High School in 2012, there was a simple conversation about lacrosse.

Striebel was a decorated lacrosse player. He played in the Ivy League for Princeton before moving on to a 15-year professional career in Major League Lacrosse.

“I just saw an athletic monster,” Striebel said. “I recognized early on that he would succeed. He just ran with it.”

Neumann had never played lacrosse, but wanted to give the sport a try during his senior year for the Blue Devils.

“I wouldn’t have played lacrosse without Matt,” Neumann said. “He is the reason I gave it a shot. I owe him the world.”

After a talk with Northampton basketball coach Rey Harp, Striebel knew that Neumann would excel immediately if he played defense.

Neumann could guard any position during his time playing basketball for the Blue Devils. With his fundamentals in lacrosse lacking due to inexperience, he could let his athleticism take over, smothering the other team’s attack.

“It’s the same concepts in basketball and lacrosse defense,” Neumann said. “I had never even touched a stick. But Matt said ‘just move your feet.’”

Fast forward to 2017. Neumann is playing in the MLL for the Florida Launch after finishing a college career at Providence where he was named Big east Defensive Player of the Year this spring.

Florida qualified for the postseason for the first time this past weekend. It will open the playoffs on Aug. 12.

“I feel so lucky that I can continue to play at the highest level,” Neumann said.

Striebel’s guidance helped Neumann’s progress exponentially.

“I would come early and stay late with Matt,” Neumann said. “He’s one of the greatest ever. He has a wealth of knowledge that most coaches don’t have.”

While Neumann is preparing for the playoffs, Striebel is playing in a Legends Alumni Game at the Lake Placid Summit Classic on Friday.

“I played the first 15 years of the league,” Striebel said. “It’s cool to have everyone together and playing. We’ll try to make some cool plays and not to hurt ourselves.”

At Princeton, Striebel scored 43 goals with 74 assists. During his MLL career, he scored 184 goals with 97 assists.

Striebel stayed in contact with Neumann as his lacrosse path took him to Bridgton Academy before heading to Providence.

“We talk just about every week,” Striebel said. “When he was going through the draft process I was encouraging GMs to take a chance on him.”

The Florida Launch selected Neumann with the 25th pick of the MLL Draft.

Neumann is in graduate school at Providence and plans to help coach the Friars. (On Launch game days, he flies to where the team is playing.)

“Everyone wants to stay in college,” Neumann said. “This is a great way for me to keep my eye on them.”

Along with coaching at Northampton, Striebel works for Trilogy Lacrosse, a national program.

There are no plans for Striebel to coach at a higher level.

“In college, the percentage is much higher for recruiting than actual coaching,” Striebel said. “In high school when you walk off the field, it doesn’t always follow you like it does in college.”

In Florida’s regular season finale against the Cannons in Boston on Saturday, Neumann left a ticket for his old coach.

When he found out that Striebel could not make the game, his response was to score his first goal as a professional.

“I did that to stick it to him a bit,” Neumann said. “That’s the kind of relationship we have.”