The goalie is just a freshman. He weighs 165 pounds. He has years of punishment, pounding and shots to take before his career can be assessed.
But for one day, at least, Princeton's Scott Bacigalupo dominated the world of college lacrosse. Yesterday, he turned a game that was supposed to be a battle of coaches into a personal showcase.
Bacigalupo made 14 saves and directed Princeton to a 15-10 victory over Johns Hopkins on a warm, spring-like afternoon at Homewood Field. The Tigers' patient, ball-control style played to Bacigalupo's strengths, but make no mistake, the goalie shut the door on the Blue Jays.
"I was really nervous," said Bacigalupo, who was an All-Metro football and lacrosse performer at St. Paul's last year. "When you grow up attending games at Hopkins and paying admission, it's great to be on the field playing. I really got caught up in the whole atmosphere."
There was a sense of history about this season-opening game. Hopkins was beginning a new era under a new coach, Tony Seaman. Unfortunately for Seaman, he was making his debut against his best friend in the business, and the man who happened to turn down the Hopkins job last summer, Princeton's Bill Tierney. Even worse, it was Princeton that beat the Blue Jays in the first round of last season's National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I tournament.
"You're always nervous the first time around here," said Seaman, who spent eight seasons as the Pennsylvania head coach. "And then, playing one of your best friends, well, you're glad when that is over with."
Tierney said the Johns Hopkins players appeared to press to give Seaman a victory. But he added that eventually, the Blue Jays will excel under Seaman.
"The thing about Tony Seaman is he is the premier innovator in lacrosse," Tierney said. "Tony will get this team going. I've seen him take teams with half this talent to the Final Four. This is just one loss."
Justin Tortolani and Chris McHugh led Princeton with three goals each and sparked a burst of seven straight goals that boosted the Tigers to an 11-5 third-quarter lead. Mike Morrissey, Seth Tierney, Drew Burns and Jay Wright had two goals each for Johns Hopkins, which played defense for most of the third quarter.
"We played really well in the first quarter, but we didn't capitalize on our advantage," Johns Hopkins defenseman Brian Voelker said. "We just didn't play very well."
Seaman also sought to downplay the loss. After all, it's still three months to the lacrosse Final Four.
"They were simply better than us," Seaman said. "They deserved to win. They did the basic things. And their goaltender, he did real well."
Bacigalupo began tentatively, allowing two quick goals in the first three minutes of the game. But from midway through the first quarter, Bacigalupo dominated the Blue Jays, making saves with his face mask, feet and stick.
"I settled down," Bacigalupo said. "It was a lot of fun."
Princeton 4 5 2 4 -- 15
Johns Hopkins 4 1 1 4 -- 10
Goals: P--McHugh 3, Tortolani 3, Reinhardt 2, Lowe 2, Thompson 1, Waller 1, Singer 1, Moe 1, Calkin 1. JH--Morrissey 2, Tierney 2, Burns 2, Wright 2, Panetta 1, Wills 1. Assists: P--Waller 1, Tortolani 1, Calkins 1. JH--Tierney 2, Wills 1, Panetta 1, Piccola 1. Saves: P--Bacigalupo 14; JH--Hobbs 9, Giardina 4. Shots: P 46; JH 34. Faceoffs: P 14, JH 14. Ground balls: P 40, JH 54. A: 5,000.