March 15, 2011

Tuesdays with Corey: Syracuse Goalie Galloway's Cage Seldom Rattled

by Corey McLaughlin |

Syracuse goalkeeper John Galloway anticipates a shot Saturday during the Orange's 9-8 overtime win over Georgetown in the Face-Off Classic. Galloway became the Orange's all-time winningest goalie.

© John Strohsacker/

So, some relatively unknown defensive midfielder from Georgetown sprinted half the length of the field and with five seconds left fires an on-the-run shot from the right alley over the head of Syracuse goalie John Galloway to force overtime Saturday.

The crowd at M&T Bank Stadium watching the first game of the Face-Off Classic in Baltimore, largely subdued for much of the morning and early afternoon, erupted into a roar normally heard during a key play at a Baltimore Ravens game.

An upset in the making? Not against Syracuse. About 30 minutes later during a post-game press conference — after Stephen Keogh bounced a shot past Georgetown goalie Jack Davis 2:19 into overtime to give the Orange a 9-8 win — Galloway explained the mood on the Syracuse sideline prior to the opening faceoff that started the extra period.

"I don't think we were panicking," the senior goaltender said. "I thought defensively we were playing a good game in the fourth quarter. They just got a couple goals where the ball rolled their way. We were playing solid defense."

He then said the team had confidence in its faceoff unit and offense to get the job done in overtime. And of course, they all have confidence in Galloway, who in making 13 saves and earning the win Saturday became the winningest goaltender in Syracuse program history. How could this team lose?

"We'll watch some film and learn from our mistakes, but we've been there before," Keogh said, using the cliché to say this team is experienced and has managed adversity before.

"We're seniors, so we've been there," he said. "We just never gave up."

A freshman, Chris Daddio, won the opening faceoff of overtime, but then that senior class went to work. They've preached patience at practices in the Carrier Dome this year, and the offense practiced it during the game Saturday. After a timeout they cycled the ball for nearly two minutes around Georgetown's zone defense until Keogh noticed a defender in the zone cheating toward another senior, Jovan Miller, leaving Keogh with an open look from the left wing. He called for a return pass. Pass, shoot, score. Syracuse went home with a 4-0 record to prepare for Tuesday night's home game against Albany.

The seniors — led by captains Galloway, long stick midfielder Joel White, midfielder Josh Amidon and defenseman Tom Guadagnolo — started their careers winning two national championships before being knocked off track for a third last May during a first-round game against Army in the Carrier Dome. The group also includes defenseman John Lade, who transferred after one year at Villanova and was a member of the 2009 national championship team. It also includes starting midfielder Jeremy Thompson, a transfer from Onondaga Community College, who arrived for the start of the 2010 season. 

To say that losing in the first round of last season's NCAA tournament was disappointing would be an understatement. To say the senior group is determined to end with another national championship is also probably an understatement.

By just listening to some of the seniors for a few minutes speak about the game, their confidence and drive becomes quickly apparent. Head coach John Desko sat at the dais between them with a relaxed look that suggested he was confident the players wouldn't say anything out of turn or inflammatory. They weren't going to say anything he didn't already know.

Galloway, a four-year starter, in particular was a topic of conversation after becoming Syracuse's all-time leader in goalie wins with 48, passing Jay Pfeifer (2002-05).

Said White: "You just know that he's going to be there. Our defense knows that. We have great chemistry on our defense and to have a guy like John in the goal is just a huge thing for us."

Said Desko: "We had to make some tough decisions when he was a freshman on who to go with. He showed such good leadership skills, which our defense needed at the time. Our clearing percentages were down. He really did a good job there. He did a good job in the save department. He's gotten better every year that he's been here. That's all you can ask from any of your players, especially your goaltender."

Said Georgetown junior attackman Davey Emala, who tied a career high with five goals Saturday on Galloway: "He's an outstanding goalie. He's obviously a great shot-stopper, but I think he does a lot more than that. He's outlet passes are always on target, and he really directs the defense in a great way."

And Galloway, talking about the wins record: "Looking back, it's going to be just another reminder of the great experience I've had at Syracuse."

It's also another reminder of just how good this Syracuse team might be.

High Five

So how did Georgetown junior short stick defensive midfielder Gerry Reilly — who had scored one other goal this season and taken just five shots — score the game-tying goal against Syracuse in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter Saturday?

1. The two-sport star at Saint Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, chose to attend Georgetown for football, not lacrosse. He only played football for one season, but has stayed with the lacrosse team since walking on in 2009. "We didn't recruit him," Hoyas coach Dave Urick said. "But he's been a great addition. He's an athlete."

2. Reilly was open down the right sideline when Hoyas sophomore Chris Nourse scooped a Jovan Miller dropped ball with about 14 seconds left as Syracuse tried to run out the clock in the Georgetown zone. Miller, trying to kill time, had been chased by defenders at the top of the zone for about 10 seconds coming out of a timeout. "We expected that defense knowing [Georgetown was] going to keep the ball up top and keep it from going behind," Syracuse goalie John Galloway said. "If anything goes wrong, they have the opportunity to get up the field quickly."

3. Reilly is fast and didn't tire during his roughly 40-yard sprint toward the goal, passing Orange midfielder Josh Amidon along the way. "I didn't realize he was that fast when he took off at the end of the game," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "My hat's off to him. It seemed like every time I looked up he was on the field, especially in defensive situations for them. For him to have that kind of juice at the end of the game, he must really have to be in shape."

UMBC head coach Don Zimmerman found little encouragement in the Retrievers' 16-5 loss to Johns Hopkins on Saturday.

Said Joel White: "For that middie to come down ... I think I was up against him every time on the [faceoff] wings. He was on the field the whole time, so he just made a great play."

4. No defenders picked up Reilly once he had a clear path at the net. "That's a shot that if we did slide to him, they're going to get a good shot off," Galloway said, referencing Georgetown attackman Davey Emala, who had scored five goals and attackman Rickey Mirabito, whom Galloway called an experienced shooter. "Whatever happened there, you just gotta make that save," Galloway said. "He took it hard down the alley, we didn't make the slide and we gave up a shot we thought I could make a save on."

5. Reilly's shot beat Galloway high to the far, left post. "You try to make the save for your team," Galloway said. "He made a great play."

Said Urick: "He doesn't score a lot of goals, but sure scored a big one today."

Quote of the Week

"They should just call it off." – Unnamed M&T Bank Stadium worker to me, while she watched the fourth quarter of Johns Hopkins' 16-5 win over UMBC Saturday on a stadium television, waiting for the long work day of a tripleheader to end.

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman had a few more words for the media after the embarrassing loss.

"To tell you the truth, there wasn't a whole lot of encouragement in that locker room, and there shouldn't have been," he said.

Final Thought

Virginia's Chris LaPierre can brag to anybody he wants that he ripped a net during the Face-Off Classic Saturday on a shot against Cornell. I wouldn't blame him. But the net also had something to do with it.

The new lime green nets used during the tripleheader, used to bring awareness to the Headstrong Foundation, were wound exceedingly tight. Shots bounced out of the goal on the west end of the stadium like they were rebounds off the pipe and it caused confusion for officials when deciding if a goal was scored. This was likely the reason for LaPierre breaking the twine with a seemingly innocuous shot. The nets (and lime green-and-black striped referee uniforms) bring awareness to a great cause, but a note for the future: Break the nets in or loosen them up, even just a little bit, before their first use in a game, especially on television.

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