Syracuse lacrosse has survived this season thanks to it's stellar defense and strong play from goalie John Galloway. Especially recently, Galloway has been a wall when it mattered most, and a big part of why the Orange has consistently held their opponents to single digits.
So when word started to creep out that John was suffering from flu-like symptoms that might keep him out of the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal game against Maryland, you can imagine it was just a tad concerning. That his back-up, Al Cavalieri, had exactly zero starts in his entire career, made things even worse.
Thankfully for all parties involved, Al Cavalieri was up to the challenge in his first start and a huge reason the Orange defeated the Terrapins 11-6 to advance to the Final Four for the 2nd year in a row.
Cavalieri finished with 14 saves in an 11-6 victory before 11,259 at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
Cavalieri had two saves on Maryland’s opening possession, including one following a long shot by freshman Jake Bernhardt on which Cavalieri barely had to move his stick.
Before this game, there was a very reasonable chance that Al would never play a game for the Orange. Galloway has started all 33 games of his career and still has two seasons ahead of him. Even if this is the only time Cavalieri starts for the Orange, it will have been a mission accomplished.
"It was one of the best performances I think I've ever seen, considering the adversity he was facing," said senior attackman Kenny Nims, who led Syracuse with two goals and two assist before a crowd of 11,259 at Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University.
Senior attackman Nims was one of three Orange who scored two goals on the day. Sophomore attackman Stephen Keogh and senior midfielder Dan Hardy each added two as well. Cody Jamieson added a goal as well.
The Orange now move on to Foxboro, Mass where they will face the #3-seed Duke Blue Devils, who nipped North Carolina 12-11. On the other side of the bracket, Cornell advanced after beating Princeton and #1 Virginia advanced after shellacking Johns Hopkins. The semis will be played on Saturday with the Orange playing in the first game at noon EST. The National Title game will be played Monday at 1pm EST (full bracket here).
SU and Cornell aren't the only Upstate New York teams in championship form. Cortland advanced to the D-III national title game, which will also be played in Foxboro next Sunday. Also, LeMoyne is in the D-II national title game that will be played next Sunday.
Alas, not all CNY teams will be represening in the Final Four. The SU women's team fell short against undefeated Maryland over the weekend and missed out on the chance to return to the Semis for the 2nd straight year. Don't blame Katie Rowan, she scored seven points in her final college game.