April 3, 2012

The Midfielder: Galloway Bleeding Orange, Wearing Blue

by Matt Forman | LaxMagazine.com Twitter

Duke assistant coach John Galloway (left) played against John Danowski and Duke in last year's Big City Classic while in the Syracuse goal. On Sunday, Galloway was on the Blue Devils' sideline, coaching goaltender Dan Wigrizer against Galloway's former teammates.
© Jim O'Connor 

On Sunday, for the first time ever, John Galloway cheered against Syracuse.

Talk about a tough spot to be in.

"It was pretty weird to see the jerseys come out and not be rooting for Syracuse when they scored," said Galloway, a graduate assistant coach with Duke just one season removed from his playing career in goal with the Orange. "To be able to see all the guys, the coaches that I've worked with for so long, and to be rooting against them was a weird, strange feeling."

There's not really an appropriate comparison, though Galloway offered one to The Monday Midfielder (which today, after a travel day back from the Big City Classic, we'll call The Midweek Midfielder):

"It was kind of like seeing an ex-girlfriend," he said. "It's like there's a big a knot in your stomach."

Born and raised in Syracuse, Galloway attended West Genesee (N.Y.) High, just a quick drive down County Rd. 98 from the school — and stadium — where he became a legend and one of the most decorated goalies in NCAA lacrosse history. The only starting goalkeeper to win a national championship as a freshman and sophomore, Galloway graduated from Syracuse as the NCAA all-time leader in wins (59) and minutes played by a netminder (3,776).

On the same stage one year ago, facing Duke in the Big City Classic, Galloway turned away a season-high 16 shots to win Player of the Game honors, leading the Orange to a 13-11 victory.

But Sunday, Galloway walked the sidelines of MetLife Stadium next to Duke coach John Danowski, his new mentor, trying to beat the school — the coaches, former teammates and best friends — he knows and loves.

"It was tough," Galloway said. "I really didn't think it was going to be that hard. When I saw those guys come out to practice yesterday, that's when I started to realize what was about to happen. That's when it started to set in."

Galloway grew up as nearby neighbors with Syracuse coach John Desko, and he went to high school with five current Syracuse players: Tim Desko, Collin Donahue, Ryan Barber, Joe Fazio and Luke Cometti. With that group, Galloway won three New York Section III titles at West Genesee.

Galloway said he speaks with the Syracuse staff and his former teammates every week, sometimes multiple times.

"This was the first week that some of the players kind of stopped talking. Which I understand, and respectfully so," he said. "I talked to the coaching staff a bunch of times, and I talked to Timmy Harder, who's the undergrad assistant there now, and I was roommates with him. We're still very close. I try to spend as much time as I can with them. Those are my brothers. I love them. That's my family.

"I still bleed orange. But right now, I'm working for Duke."

And for about two hours Sunday, Galloway's responsibilities and obligations for Duke meant going up against Syracuse. The Blue Devils won 12-10 behind stellar fourth-quarter goalie play by Dan Wigrizer.

Before game day, how much did Galloway's intricate knowledge of Syracuse's systems and styles come into play? Not much outside of the ordinary.

"The first thing coach Danowski said at the beginning of the week was that he didn't want to put me in an awkward position," Galloway said. "He wasn't going to ask me personal things. We treated it just like any other game. We watched the film of this year, and I didn't know if they had changed anything. I knew the personnel and everything. I was able to talk to the goalies about the personnel and their tendencies. But besides that, we treated it just like any other game.

"Everybody has plenty of film now. Everybody knows what they're doing. The coaches were kind of guessing and I was kind of affirming some of those guesses. But it was weird to watch some of your friends, your best friends and roommates and scout them."

Funny thing, though. Galloway chuckled when asked about identifying the Orange attack's shooting tendencies. "They didn't work, obviously, because we didn't make many saves in the first quarter or first half."

Junior goalie Dan Wigrizer made one save before intermission. He left the game with about two minutes left in the third quarter because he had an open wound and blood dripping down his ankle.

And at that moment, with Wigrizer receiving attention from the trainers, Galloway had maybe his biggest impact on the game. "This is your time," Galloway told Wigrizer. "It doesn't matter what happened earlier." Wigrizer made four outrageous fourth-quarter stuffs to keep Syracuse at bay and preserve Duke's sixth straight win.

"Usually you don't [see] that, taking the goalie out and putting him back in. Usually you just go all-in," Galloway said. "But that was perfect for Dan. He just needed a minute or two to take a breath and get focused. We got him out for a couple minutes, and he was able to catch his breath and go back in there for the fourth. He really focused. He started really dialing in. You saw the production.

"He's shown that he can really step up when it counts. He did that today. We needed those saves. Those were big saves. They weren't just small ones. They were huge. He's really starting to find his groove. If we keep developing that, he could be a good one."

It was interesting to hear Galloway's take on both teams' goalie situations, which have been unsettled thus far but might be finding solutions.

Danowski has played four players between the pipes, including three different starters, but Wigrizer seems to have a firm grasp on the job. "He's our guy," Danowski said.

Desko has split time between Dominic Lamolinara and Matt Lerman, but Lamolinara has started the last three games and made 10 saves Sunday. Freshman Bobby Wardwell — one of seven goalies on the Orange roster — also has been competing in practice but hasn't yet seen live action.

Following in the footsteps of the greatest goalie to grace the Orange won't be easy for whoever ends up being Galloway's long-term replacement in cage.

"They're still finding trying to find who's going to be their guy. I think they're still searching," Galloway said. "Dom seems like he's a very talented player. That was my first time ever watching him play in person. I think they have three great goalies on their roster right now that are competing for the spot. I think the job has got to still be open. He seems to be very confident in the clearing game, and I think they like that a lot. I'm sure they're going to find somebody to make saves, because they're all very talented."

See, when it's black and white — like evaluating performances between the white lines — Galloway's got it down. It was only a little funny to face his former teammates and coaches. But as a result, he has a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"I couldn't be more fortunate, to go from Syracuse to Duke, to have the experience that I had and then to have this new experience under a guy that's so well-respected and people really do love," Galloway said. "[Coach Danowski] cares about the game. I'm learning so many things that I never even thought of. I hope that it really can benefit me down the road, where I'll have experiences that I can draw from, from two different places. To be with him, he's one of a kind. It's been great. I'm learning a ton. I love the career now, because of him."

Emptying the Notebook From No. 8 Duke vs. No. 14 Syracuse

Senior Collin Donahue took sophomore Derek Maltz's spot on attack in the second half. Donahue's role is expanding for the Orange.
© Jim O'Connor 

- Three primary areas have plagued Syracuse during its recent struggles, a stretch in which the Orange have lost four of their last six games: being consistent in cage, winning faceoffs and converting man-up situations. On Sunday, Syracuse solved the first two of those concerns. That's likely why John Desko said: "Believe it or not, even though it was a loss, we improved today."

- Chris Daddio (.495), Ricky Buhr (.409) and others entered Sunday having won a composite 45.6 percent of draws for Syracuse. On Sunday, that pair combined to win 14-of-25 going mostly against CJ Costabile, one of the nation's best at the X. "We used some different people on the wings and coach Kevin Donahue did a really good job of evaluating the Duke guys," Desko said. "We really competed there, and we know that we have to going into every game."

- As detailed earlier, Desko is still looking for his main man in cage. Earlier in the week, he had mentioned the possibility of playing Wardwell, but that would require burning his redshirt. Lamolinara made 10 stops Sunday, which included several fancy saves, while facing 42 shots. "In a venue like this you can see the replays. I kept looking up at the TV screens and trying to see where we broke down defensively when they got their goals, and I was really impressed with the placement of their shots — a lot of stuff off-hip and bouncers off-hip. I really thought they placed shots well today," Desko said. "So I thought he did a good job." Lamolinara said after the game that he feels like he is the starter — for now — "until I make a big mistake."

- Said Lamolinara, on facing 42 shots: "It was fun. I play goalie to make saves. So when I'm back there doing something, it's actually a fun day. They had a couple misses at the beginning, but they started to stick it in the corners. I've got to work on my outside shots a lot better during practice."

- But the Orange only converted 1-of-5 extra-man opportunities Sunday, and that came on a ridiculous 12-yard step down bounce-shot by Tim Desko. Syracuse will have to continue to rotate new faces into its man-advantages and draw up different plays, working until the right balance is struck.

- Sophomore Derek Maltz, Syracuse's leading scorer, didn't play much in the second half Sunday, as Collin Donahue took his spot on attack. Maltz hasn't tallied a point in consecutive games, while Donahue's role is expanding. "Collin got in and got a nice assist early and a couple hockey assists," Desko said. "He made some good decisions. We liked what he was doing when he was in there."

- Senior Tommy Palasek, the Hopkins transfer who started the last eight games last year in place of the injured Tim Desko, was Syracuse's offensive star, scoring four goals and adding an assist. "The last few games now, he's really been stepping up. He's been shooting the ball well. He's moving without the ball better. And earlier in the year, I think he had some opportunities that he didn't finish. Now he's gotten better with that."

- With Syracuse scheduled to join the ACC next season, the Duke-Syracuse game has become a rivalry of sorts, though Danowski downplayed its significance while praising the Orange. "Because of the smallness of our sport, we really look at every game as a rivalry game. Everybody on our team knows somebody on another team. We all know the coaches. We all know everybody. And our schedule is pretty consistent year to year," he said. "Playing Syracuse, it's like playing Notre Dame, the Yankees and the Boston Celtics all rolled into one in our sport." Desko, though, said he was "looking forward to the new tradition. It's obviously a team that plays more like we like to play. They get up and down the field, when given the opportunity. They're a talented group."

Emptying the Notebook From No. 1 Johns Hopkins vs. No. 11 North Carolina

Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala walked into the post-game press conference room, where he was greeted by three reporters and one TV cameraman.

"Jeez. The amount of people here is indicative of our effort today," Pietramala said, probably somewhat serious, somewhat joking. (It was after 9 o'clock and most of the remaining newspaper writers were on deadline.)

But in a six-minute interview, The Monday Midfielder was able to hit all the highlights with Pietramala, who wasn't mincing his words after the top-ranked Blue Jays were upset 13-9 by North Carolina.

"Tough to beat a good team when you don't play well, when you don't play hard. Carolina came into this game and approached it as a must-win, and I don't think we did at all," he said. "More importantly, we were out-coached, we were out-played, we were out-hustled, so I take my hat off to Carolina. They played like a team that needed that win. They played like a hungry team, and we played soft, uninspired — for at least a good 30 minutes — and unintelligently. ... They did a great job. We didn't. Hopefully they did us a favor and we'll wake up."

After knocking off No. 1 Virginia two weekends ago in Charlottesville, Pietramala said his team had overcome several challenges, beating three teams the Blue Jays had extended losing streaks again — Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia. But, he knew handling that streak would be the biggest test yet. "We're going to have to show something else now," he said. "We're going to have to show that we can handle a big win and play a quality Carolina team on the road." He was right.

"We just weren't ready to play. There was a different feeling coming out of the locker room for Virginia than there was today. There was a different feeling in warm-ups for Virginia than there was today," Pietramala said. "The lesson is: You've got to show up and be ready to play, and be ready to play every team. I hope it's a wakeup call for us. It certainly needs to be. If we don't do our job, we'll wind up sitting here having the same conversation Thursday night after Albany, if we play that way."

The Monday Midfielder asked Pietramala: Why do you think there was a different feeling?

"I don't think we were as enthusiastic as we needed. I thought we were very flat. I would tell you I think we probably felt too good about ourselves," Pietramala said. "You can try and guess a million things why a kid — part of it is my fault. I take the blame. If my team doesn't play hard, isn't ready to play and is flat, you know what, in the end, there's only one place you look. The head coach. It's my job to inspire. It's my job to motivate them. It's my job to have them prepared. Today, I didn't do that. Ultimately, you can probably ask me, how come I didn't do my job? I guess I'm going to have to look in the mirror and do a better job this week."

Pietramala has been a master motivator in 2012, getting Hopkins ready for each week's opponent. The Blue Jays were easily the most consistent team in the country — before Sunday.

The big-picture takeaway: In any given week, every team is vulnerable. An exciting May could be in store.

The guess here? I don't buy the "good loss" theory. Likewise, I'm not a big believer in moral victories.

But a good team might be able to learn more from a loss than a win. Take a lesson from Kentucky, which Tuesday night won the men's college basketball national championship. The Wildcats fell to Vanderbilt in the SEC title game before rattling off six straight in the Big Dance.

"We just need to go back to work. We need to use this loss just as we used the win. You learn from it, and you move on," Pietramala said. "You're going to lose games. The problem is this. I want to be beaten, I don't want to lose. Today, we lost. We didn't put our best foot forward, and they did. I'd like to put our best foot forward, and have them put their best foot forward, and then if it doesn't go our way then, hey, you take your hat off to them. They were better prepared today and they played better."

As Hopkins assistant coach Jamison Koesterer tweeted after the game: "Enjoying a large slice of Humble Pie. Doesn't taste great but sometimes necessary in order to get what you want."

Humble Pie, you might remember, was one of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's famous lines during the Patriots' near-perfect 18-1 season. Players wore t-shirts that read "be humble or be humbled." Apropos.

You know what? Maybe Belichick helped serve the slice of humble pie. He was in attendance for Sunday's game wearing a Hopkins lacrosse hoodie, and joined the media — if only a few — for Pietramala's post-game presser.

Belichick, by the way, also was spotted in Foxborough, Mass., this weekend. His daughter, Amanda, is an assistant coach at Ohio State, which played No. 1 Northwestern in the first-ever women's lacrosse games at Gillette Stadium. Quite the lacrosse-filled weekend.

Quick Hits

R.G. Keenan was 15-of-18 on faceoffs entering the fourth quarter on Sunday.
© Jim O'Connor 

- Sixth-year senior attackman Chris Boland, who suffered an apparent collarbone injury in Hopkins' season-opening defeat of Towson, made his return to the field Sunday. For the last two weeks Boland went through warm-ups but did not play, as he had not received full medical clearance. Seven weeks after the initial injury, Boland looked like his old self, scoring on a pair of Howitzers to beat Steven Rastivo. "It was great to see Chris back out there," Pietramala said. "I'm sorry to see we wasted a two-goal effort from him. The guy has broken his rear end to get back. It meant everything for him to come back today, and to be apart of this game. He's a sixth-year senior who could've taken a different route — a slower route and come back a little bit later and a little bit more healthy. He just wanted to get back. It's great to have him back. I wish we would've played better in an effort where he was back. Hopefully, as a senior leader and a senior captain, he'll help our guys understand what went on today and how we can learn from it."

- Health-wise, Boland said he feels "fine." He added: "It felt good to be back and running around with the guys." Boland didn't start Sunday, as expected; Pietramala previously mentioned the need to slowly build Boland back up to speed. At times Sunday, Hopkins' attack looked like it was out of sync. But it shouldn't take much time for him to get reacquainted, since the Blue Jays rotated four attackman for most of the fall and preseason. There's no doubting that Boland adds an addition element to the offense. He provides a perfect balance to Brandon Benn and Zach Palmer, Canadians with great touch and finishing ability on the inside, and feeder Wells Stanwick.

- The biggest difference Sunday? Faceoffs. North Carolina's R.G. Keenan won 18-of-25 draws and won Player of the Game honors. (When's the last time that happened, by the way?) Before a 3-for-7 fourth quarter, which included several violations for quick starts, Keenan was 15-of-18. He helped the Tar Heels keep the pressure on Hopkins' defense, especially in the second quarter when the Blue Jays were out-shot 23-3. "R.G. is a terrific player," Carolina coach Joe Breschi said. "We know R.G. is a special player. The thing that he's matured with is where to win it — not just win it forward every time like he did last year — but to win it to different spots. That's what makes him dangerous. When you have to stop an offense that's coming together, because you're winning so many faceoffs, it can be lethal."

- Carolina had very few ineffective offensive possessions Sunday, as the Heels seemingly turned every settled situation into a scoring opportunity. They confused Hopkins' defense, especially on switches off a two-man game, and scored 13 goals — the most the Jays have allowed since last year's NCAA tournament loss to Denver. "That's just a testament to the guys on the offensive end moving the ball, playing unselfishly," said junior attackman Marcus Holman, who had two goals and four assists. "We knew coming in that Hopkins at the No. 1 or so rated defense, and a great goaltender in Pierce Bassett. We just wanted to pepper the cage. That second quarter we kind of unloaded."

- Without Greg McBride (suspension) and Jimmy Dunster (injury), and with star attackman Nicky Galasso playing almost exclusively in man-up situations, Carolina's offense looked as fluid as it has all season. "I'm very pleased with how it's come together," Breschi said. "The biggest thing when you're going through this, it's such a process. It's a journey. It's not a sprint. We've tried to keep these guys understanding the plan and progression of things. Obviously we are playing some young guys at attack, and Marcus is the quarterback down there with [Joey] Sankey and [Jimmy] Bitter just doing a tremendous job. These guys are gritty, they're tough and they're scrappy."

- More Breschi, on chemistry: "We've had a few bumps in the road as we've progressed through the season, but these guys have stuck together. They knew that being patient with the coaching staff and getting the right chemistry, the right of guys to work together. I'm proud of everybody accepting their role on the team, able to put the chemistry together to start to win some pretty big games."

- So what's next for Carolina? "I would say probably take on No. 1 Virginia next week," Breschi said with a smile. "Just continuing to stay the course and focusing on the task at hand. It's been an interesting season. But these guys are resilient and they stick together through the thick and thin. We've had some serious lows, and this was certainly one of the highs, as the season progresses."


Good day, and good lacrosse.

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