Schneider ’04 Shines in Net, Takes Silver for Team USA

If you have ever seen goalie Cory Schneider ’04 in an Andover game, you understand the meaning behind the “NHL” chants. While the masses in the crowd are convinced of his future presence in the pros, in the meantime Schneider settles for playing under three other letters: USA. For the first three weeks of this month, Schneider joined the Under-18 US National Team to compete in the World U-18 Championship in Minsk, Belarus. Defeating the teams of Denmark, Sweden, Belarus, Canada and Czech Republic, Schneider and Team USA took home the silver medal after a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Russia in the finals. Though Schneider joined a team of players who have been together for two years under the National Team Development Program, he flawlessly made the transition from “new guy” to leader. Teammate Brandon Scero commented: “Even though Schneider just met all of us, he fit in with the guys really well and played really well.” The team reached a consensus on Schneider’s value, as Mike Brennan articulated: “We could not have gotten as far as we did without Cory.” Playing the entirety of every game—excluding nine minutes of the 9-0 win over Belarus—Schneider stopped 131 of 141 shots, with a 92.91 save percentage—just one percentage short of the best goalie performance in the tournament. His most notable showing was a 2-1 victory over Canada. Schneider made 38 saves and received the “Best Player” award for Team USA. Even better than skating up in front of thousands to receive his award (in the form of a Russian doll), Schneider describes the subsequent playing of America’s national anthem as “the best feeling in the world.” Though the mostly Belarusian and Russian crowd jeered, Schneider and his teammates “all just started singing so loudly, we could not hear them by the end.” For while encouragement may not have been found in the crowd, Team USA was constantly reminded of its goals by those in and out of the program. The US Army 10th Mountain Divison 642nd Engineer Unit sent letters to each player on Team USA. The soldiers’ words read, “Same Uniform, Same Country… We did in the sand, now do it on the ice!” Posted on the walls of the hotel room where the team held its meetings were countless letters from Americans, wishing the team luck as well as various posters that served to focus the team. One, “Climb to the Championship” depicted a staircase with each opponent on a step towards the gold medal. As Head Coach Hynes warned the team from the beginning: “Everything you will be doing is geared towards winning.” But despite what Schneider classifies as an “unparalleled display of dedication and discipline by any team I have ever played for,” in the end, Team USA fell one step short of the gold medal. In their final game, down 3-2 to Russia with 13 seconds left, a shot from a USA player found the net. As Schneider, pulled from play and now on the bench, started to cheer, the referee signaled that the goal did not count: the Russian goalie had accidentally pushed the net off the mooring just seconds before the puck went in. Such a sudden switch from exhilaration to utter disappointment Schneider remembers as “the ultimate high and the ultimate low.” The remaining 13 seconds saw no goals, and Team USA was forced to settle for silver. But Schneider still walked away with “one of the most amazing experiences of his life.” For just as Coach Hynes reminded the players from the beginning. “Love the process… The lessons you are going to learn here…the things you will prove to yourself and to your teammates about who you are and what this team can do is a fun process…thoroughly enjoyable” And Schneider certainly could not argue with that. It was a week of victory and defeat for the Andover Girls Varsity Waterpolo, as last Saturday they lost their first game against Loomis with a score of 18-3 but came back to win their second game against NMH with a score of 12-3. On Wednesday, the girls suffered an 8-6 loss to Williston Northhampton. With a number of girls on the injured list, including high-scorer Parla Alpan ’06, the girls still managed to play well. Newcomer Katherine Uhl ’06 had a successful day in goal and made some incredible saves. According to teammate Kelly Chang ’07, “Katherine really pulled through for us, and without her we would have lost that second game.” Alex Doty ’05 and Emily Brenner ’06 were responsible for scoring in the NMH game. Said Brenner, “It was a great game, and it was really exciting. The energy level was amazing and we proved our real potential when we came through for the win.” This Wednesday, Williston Northhampton came to Andover’s pool to challenge the Lady Blue. This time however, Andover’s injured list had continued to grow, with Parla Alpan ’06, goalie Katherine Uhl ’06, and Liz Slaughter ’06 all spending the game on the pool deck. The lack of girls did not stop the team from scoring, but Williston was too much for the struggling Andover team, and the game ended with Andover down a close 8-6. Making up for Uhl’s absence, Susannah Gund ’04 was back in goal and made a number of fantastic saves. Laura Benca ’05 tore through the water, becoming responsible for a majority of the team’s goals. Kristina Chang ’04 scored as well, as did Emily Brenner ’06. “Brenner’s goal was awesome,” said K.Chang ’07, “I was really impressed. Emily [Brenner]’s first season is going fantastically. She’s a really strong player and a true asset to the team’s success.” The defensive half of the team played well also, with Carly Villareal ’07 making some great blocks, and Amy Lippe ’04 continuously swimming the ball up the pool. Throughout the three games they girls played last week, they lost two and won one. Even though there were some disappointing moments, the girls are generally pleased with the performance of the team as a whole. Said Captain Kate Page ’04, “We’re playing well, maybe not as well as we could be, but we’re playing well. We still have some things to work on, and some improvements to make, but I think if we keep working hard and keep our heads up, everything will work out.” Coach Elizabeth Meyer also feels that the team will continue to improve as they continue to practice hard. She said of the week, “We know we have a few things to work out, and we know that the team is not perfect yet, but we’re all willing to work hard and stay focused to bring this season this a fabulous close.” The girls have three more games left in their regular season. The girls are excited and ready to show their skill and potential in their up-coming contests. Their one remaining home game is against Exeter, where the girls will be sure to show what they are made of on their home turf.