As he left West Irondequoit High School and headed to Roberts Wesleyan College a decade ago, Jake Schindler had a pretty good idea what he wanted to do with his life.
Oh, he’d keep playing soccer as long as he could, but eventually he figured he’d be sitting at a desk, crunching numbers on a balance sheet.
Mathematics was just one of those subjects he really enjoyed in high school.
“I thought accounting might be a good fit,” Schindler said. “But after one semester of that I knew that I was going to be bored out of my mind.”
Thankfully he also loved the sciences. Goodbye CPA, hello optical engineering.
Schindler graduated from Roberts Wesleyan in 2011 with a physics degree and has been working for Semrock, a Chili-based optics company, for six years. The firm produces imaging for microscopes and medical devices. He’s a metrology and test engineer, ensuring “the product we’re making is what we say it is.”
“I loved math and science and this was like a nice blend of the two,” said Schindler, who at 29 is the elder statesman on the back end for the Rochester Lancers.
On the pitch, he’s also a bit of defensive engineer for the Lancers. With a life of outdoor play and six years of indoor soccer experience on his resume, Schindler has provided a calming influence with his veteran presence as the Lancers take aim at a NPSL playoff berth.
They have two games remaining, at AFC Cleveland at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and then back home at Charlie Schiano Sr. Field at Aquinas Institute against the Erie Commodores at 4 p.m. on July 15. Tickets for the home regular-season finale are $10, with kids 10-and-under admitted for free.
Four teams — the Lancers, Erie, Cleveland and Dayton — are engaged in an intense battle for two playoff spots in the NPSL’s East Conference Division. Erie gained the upper hand by defeating the Lancers 2-1 in Pennsylvania last Friday, but Rochester could turn the tables by avenging the loss next Saturday.
“There’s one scenario where we could tie and win and get in … but really it’s win or go home,” Schindler said. “Everything’s in our hands, so that’s a great feeling. We control our own destiny.”
Considering the Lancers started the season with two losses, this climb toward the top of the division by the Doug Miller-coached squad has been impressive. They are 5-1-2 in the past eight games, and rank third in the NPSL’s Midwest Conference in goals-against per game (0.7).
“Doug has done a great job of adjusting the team and the guys have really just bought into what he’s saying,” Schindler said. “That’s really why we’ve had this amazing run of games through the middle of the year, and we’re hoping we finish just as strong.”
And now it has come down to two final games to determine their playoff fate.
“There’s a little bit of nervousness, which is good because no one thinks we’re just going to go out and win,” Schindler said. “Pretty much every game we’ve played has been a dogfight.”
How important is Schindler to the Lancers’ success? He never leaves the field. Nine starts, 90 minutes of playing time per start. He’s consistent, he’s tenacious, he’s scrappy, he’s tough and he’s determined to succeed.
He’s still very hungry to hoist hardware, too. In high school he was part of two Section V championship relay teams in swimming, the 200 medley and 200 freestyle, earning a trip to the state tournament. But there was never a Section V title in soccer or lacrosse during his time on the varsity.
That drive to be a champion is one reason he keeps playing. That, and an intense love of the game.
“There’s this little flame inside of me that just won’t go out,” he said. “And I’d really like to win a big trophy some day. I can’t say I’ve ever won a regional champion or national champion.”