COLLEGE PARK -- The road to the NCAA Division I lacrosse championship is blocked by Princeton goalie Scott Bacigalupo.
The junior from Towson is the best of the Final Four goalies. He is the best in the country.
"He is one of the best I've seen," Princeton coach Bill Tierney said recently.
"Last year you could score off rebounds on him," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "Not any more."
"The general consensus is that he's the best," Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr. said.
The No. 3 Orangemen (10-2) will get another crack at Bacigalupand No. 2 Princeton (13-1) today at 4 p.m. in the second semifinal game. No. 1 North Carolina (13-1) plays No. 4 Johns Hopkins (11-3) in the first semifinal at 1 p.m.
Bacigalupo dominated teams in the last two rounds of the playoffs a year ago. He had 19 saves in Princeton's 16-14 semifinal win over North Carolina and had 15 saves in the Tigers' 10-9 double overtime win against Syracuse in the championship game.
He had four one-on-one saves in the overtime periods.
A goalie's play will be critical on the grass field at Byrd Stadium.
"It's a hard and soft surface," said Dave Klarmann, North Carolina's coach.
Sometimes you take a shot, and it comes up abruptly, or sometimes it stays down. On AstroTurf, you know how it will bounce. But this [goaltending] will be like playing shortstop where you get a bad bounce all the time. "
The Tigers play on a natural grass field. Bacigalupo has a .677 save percentage.
"When you think of Princeton, you know you have to get to Bacigalupo," said Matt Riter, a senior attackman for Syracuse. "He's the key to their game. We've got to break him down early because once he gets hot, he ignites the rest of their de
Syracuse senior goalie Chris Surran also has played well this season with a .647 save percentage, but eight of the Orangemen's games were played on artificial turf at the Carrier Dome.
Surran also had problems against Johns Hopkins, a team that is selective on shots.
Syracuse outgunned the Blue Jays in a 21-17 victory.
Johns Hopkins freshman goalie Jonathan Marcus has bee inconsistent this season. Marcus had 208 saves, but gave up 140 goals. The grass surface could give him problems because Homewood Field has artificial turf.
North Carolina's goaltending situation is in a near panic state Tar Heels goalie Billy Daye fractured the sixth vertebra in his neck in a collision with a Johns Hopkins player in the ninth game and was replaced by seldom-used junior Gary Lehrman.
Lehrman has given up 58 goals, but has 80 saves. Backup goali Dave Gilner walked on when Daye went down.
"Bacigalupo is the best, but Surran has played well, too," Cottl said. "Marcus has played OK for a freshman, but North Carolina misses Daye."
"I think a lot depends on which goalkeeper gets hot and does well," John Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said.
"God knows, luck is important as anything else. A couple of pipes on shots always helps."