By Christian Swezey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 26, 2008
FOXBOROUGH, Mass., May 25 -- Johns Hopkins and Syracuse will share the record for most NCAA men's lacrosse championships for one more day. On Monday, the teams meet in the national title game at Gillette Stadium. A crowd of more than 40,000 is expected.
Each team enters with nine national titles. One will emerge with its 10th.
Players and coaches from No. 3 Syracuse (15-2) and No. 5 Johns Hopkins (11-5) were not talking very much about the milestone, even if most everyone else was.
"I guess [the 10th title] adds to it a little bit, but I think if you start to think about those other things and not focus on what it takes to beat the Blue Jays, you could be in trouble," Syracuse Coach John Desko said.
Said Johns Hopkins senior attackman Kevin Huntley: "It's something you think about, because you'd like to have that 10th national championship for our school. At the same time, we kind of have to focus on us and just this year. You don't really want to focus too much on the past."
The teams have not met in the national championship game since 1989. That game was played before a crowd of more than 23,000 at Byrd Stadium that included then-vice president Dan Quayle and his family. It featured seven ties and seven lead changes. In the final minute, Syracuse led 13-12 and had possession.
But Dave Pietramala stripped the ball from Syracuse midfielder Gary Gait with 25 seconds left to give his team one more chance. As the game ended, a close shot was saved by Syracuse goalkeeper Matt Palumb and the Orange won the title.
Pietramala currently is the coach at Johns Hopkins. And he said Sunday that he has never watched the final 90 seconds of the 1989 title game, even though his defensive play is one of the best-known in the sport's history.
When asked why not, he gave a quick answer: "Because we lost."
Syracuse freshman John Galloway is trying to become the fifth freshman goalie to start for a national championship team. The others were Virginia's Rodney Rullman in 1972, Kevin Mahon of Johns Hopkins in 1974, Quint Kessenich at Johns Hopkins in 1987 and Derek Kenney at Virginia in 1999.
(Jay Pfeifer of Syracuse was a redshirt freshmen when the Orange won the title in 2002.)
Desko has seen Galloway grow up, quite literally. Galloway's family lived a few blocks from Desko's house, and he went to grade school and high school with Tim Desko, one of John's sons.
Galloway has uncommon poise for a freshman goalie. He maintains a 3.5 grade-point average in the school's prestigious Newhouse School of Communications and, in his three years as a starter at West Genesee High, he started in three state title games; his team won one.
At this time last year, however, Galloway was preparing to face Fayetteville-Manlius in the New York Class A Section 3 playoffs.
"Playing high school teams you concentrate on the one or two recruits who are going Division I schools, like Hopkins or Duke," Galloway said. "And now you're playing Johns Hopkins. It's pretty overwhelming to think that a year ago I was playing high school games."
Galloway will face an offense that features senior midfielder Paul Rabil (30 goals, 13 assists) and Huntley (32 goals).
The Blue Jays also are starting a young goalie. Sophomore Michael Gvozden started four state title games at Severna Park; his team won twice. He had 17 saves in a victory over Duke on Saturday.
The Blue Jays have a record 882 victories. Syracuse is second, with 776. But the teams' recent histories have been less glamorous. Syracuse is back in the title game after it went 5-8 and missed the NCAA tournament last year.
Johns Hopkins has rebounded from a five-game losing streak in midseason, the longest single-season losing streak in the program's 125-year history.
"When I grew up playing, it was Hopkins and Syracuse," Pietramala said. "It's interesting, everyone wants to talk about parity. And yet here we are, and here's Syracuse and here's Hopkins."
· DIVISION II: Keith Henderson scored five goals and defenseman Chris Scuderi had seven groundballs as New York Tech defeated LeMoyne, 16-11, in the Division II championship game. The Bears (13-1) won their fourth title under Coach Jack Kaley. Nick Gatto scored three goals for the Dolphins (15-2).
· DIVISION III: Junior Kylor Berkman had five goals and two assists as Salisbury defeated SUNY Cortland, 19-13, in the Division III championship before 24,317 fans at Gillette Stadium. The Sea Gulls (22-0) won the championship for the fifth time in the past six years. Junior Joey Morgan scored four goals for the Red Dragons (18-2).
· DIVISION I WOMEN: Northwestern won its fourth consecutive national championship, avenging its only loss of the season with a 10-6 victory over Penn. Hilary Bowen led Northwestern (21-1) with three goals and tied a tournament record with 17 overall.
Northwestern's string of NCAA titles is second only to Maryland, which won seven straight championships from 1995 to 2001.
Ali DeLuca led the Quakers (17-2) with two goals. It was the first time a Penn team in any sport appeared in an NCAA-sanctioned national championship game.