Bacigalupo offers net gain for Princeton 1994 NCAA LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIPS--COLLEGE PARK

May 27, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Princeton goalie Scott Bacigalupo has a distinct style. He'll dive for a save, or make one by doing a split. He's in the cage, out of the cage, in your face, hiding behind a pipe and then back in the net.

Where will he appear next?

"He's like a movable wall," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "I would rate him as one of the best ever. His style? He doesn't have one. Nobody knows what you're going to see from him or where he is going to be."

Try Byrd Stadium in College Park tomorrow, when No. 3 Princeton (12-1) meets No. 7 Brown (13-4) in the NCAA Division I lacrosse semifinals at 3 p.m.

After the game starts, who knows?

"He's got an unorthodox style," Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said. "He's quick, has great anticipation and positions himself well against the pipes. He always looks like he is going fTC 100 miles an hour and is very charismatic in goal. He turns a good Princeton team into a very, very, very good Princeton team."

It's no coincidence that Princeton's program started to rise when Bacigalupo enrolled there four years ago. Before Bacigalupo (B.B.), the Tigers had gone to postseason play once. In A.B., the Tigers made four straight playoff appearances and won the title in 1992.

Bacigalupo, from St. Paul's School, twice has received the Ensign C.M. Kelly Jr. award as the nation's top goalie. His 7.36 goals-against average is phenomenal in these days of high-powered offenses.

"He has grown with the program, and at the same time, the program has grown with him," said Bill Tierney, Princeton's coach.

In some ways, Bacigalupo is a Tierney clone. Tierney arrived three years before Bacigalupo, and the goalie was one of his first prized recruits. Both are articulate, confident, intelligent and extremely emotional.

Maybe that's why Bacigalupo runs all over the place.

"I've seen him stop shots with splits, get back on his feet, and stop another one at point-blank range," Tierney said. "He's very flexible and has a great work ethic. He has always been very emotional, and you either have to be that way to be a goalie, or very relaxed where nothing bothers you."

On the field, something always seems to bother Bacigalupo. He constantly waves his arms, or pounds his stick or yells at his defensemen.

Tierney has given Bacigalupo the green light to call defenses.

"I think it gives me a better sense of the game," Bacigalupo said. "After four years, there aren't too many situations that I haven't seen or can't adjust to. You feel more involved in the flow because you're the one that just called the defense."

There's some pressure with the responsibility, but Bacigalupo is used to it. He was Princeton's most highly regarded high school prospect and was chosen Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Bacigalupo is a three-time All-American with a .648 save percentage and 703 saves. Princeton is 49-8 during his career.

Bacigalupo was a contender to become the first player to be selected to the All-Ivy League first team four years, but was on the second when the team was announced a week ago, behind Brown's Jay Stalfort.

Bacigalupo always has been intense, but now says he is on a mission. "It was just one of those things, but to be honest, I was disappointed," Bacigalupo said. "Now, I just have some fire in my belly. Some people say I'm the best goalie in the country, and yet I only made the second Ivy team.

"Well, what better way to prove myself than at the Final Four?" Bacigalupo said.

His playing career will end after the tournament. Bacigalupo, an economics major, will become a trader in equity for Merrill Lynch in New York on July 11.

"To have a ball hitting you on your body at 90 miles per hour for eight or nine years can make the itch to play some more fade," Bacigalupo said. "I have been thinking about that privately a lot [not winning the championship]. I try to tell myself that it will be OK because we've had a good four-year run.

"But I always believe that it takes just as much mental preparation as it does physical," Bacigalupo said. "I'm so mentally involved in games that sometimes when they end, I can't remember things. But one thing I want people to remember after my last game is that I gave it all, and never held nothing back. It has been quite an honor to be mentioned with some of the game's best."

FINAL FOUR PREVIEW

The NCAA Division I lacrosse Final Four will be held tomorrow and Monday at Byrd Stadium in College Park. This is the last in a series of preview stories on the four national semifinalists.

Team: Princeton

Where: Princeton, N.J.

Conference: Ivy League

Coach: Bill Tierney, 69-34 (7 seasons)

Final Four history: Won championship in 1992; lost, 15-9, to North Carolina in semifinals in 1993.

Road to Final Four: Beat sixth-seeded Johns Hopkins, 12-11, in ++ overtime in quarterfinals.

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