Men's Lacrosse

Galasso displays playmaking ability as adjusting midfielder

Spencer Bodian | Staff Photographer

Nicky Galasso has scored five goals in Syracuse's last six games, finding his place as a dynamic midfielder.

Nicky Galasso is slowly starting to show Syracuse what he is capable of.

In the second quarter of the Orange’s 11-10 upset of Notre Dame on March 29, Galasso took a pass, dropped his release angle and unleashed a blinding shot from 12 yards out that UND goalie Shane Doss barely had time to react to, let alone try and stop.

Doss instead had to fish the ball out of the back of the net while Galasso celebrated SU’s three-goal lead with his teammates.

“I’ve accepted the role that I’ve taken on,” Galasso said. “At this point, I just want to play. I’m not really going to complain.

“I know what I am capable of as an attackman, but if midfield is where the coaches need me and the team needs me, I’m going to play that position.”

Syracuse has won five of its last six games, and it’s no coincidence Galasso has recently started to contribute. The redshirt junior has notched all five of his goals and his one assist on the year in the Orange’s last six games, alluding to the playmaking ability that once made him the most coveted recruit in the country.

Earlier in the season, Galasso mostly saw the field during man-up situations. But over the last month his minutes and production are both on the rise — right as Syracuse approaches the postseason.

No. 7 Syracuse (7-3, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) battles for an ACC tournament bid in its last conference regular-season game against No. 4 North Carolina (9-2, 2-2) on Saturday. And Galasso will look to keep firing on all cylinders, this time against his former program.

“I think it’s just his confidence level going up and up and up,” SU head coach John Desko said.

Prior to this year, the North Carolina transfer missed all of last year due to a stress fracture in his foot, and was sidelined for SU’s first two games of this season with a hand injury.

But as the former attack adapts to his role on the Orange’s second-line midfield, it’s all coming back together.

“I’m starting to get comfortable dodging more,” Galasso said, “creating more offense for the second midfield line and I’m just excited to get going to the real level I’m capable of being at.”

Although it’s been a while, making jaws drop and eyes widen are nothing new for Galasso, who holds the Long Island record with 500 points in a high school career.

In his five years playing at West Islip (N.Y.) High School, Galasso was part of four state championship teams, as he developed into a three-time All-American and the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2010.

Of all his talents, arguably best of all was Galasso’s knack for playmaking that his brothers, high school coach and former teammates still rave about.

He once netted a one-handed shot behind his back that his brother Sal Galasso remembers being replayed nearly 40 times after the game at Farrell’s Bar and Grill in West Islip. His brother Victor Galasso has never seen a crowd surge into an uproar like one did after his brother pulled off a Gary Gait-esque one-hander.

Tom Clifford, a former high school teammate, recalled a Galasso shot with enough force to hit the post and move the net — and still go in, sparking a West Islip rally in the county championship.

“He was like LeBron James on the basketball court; that was Nicky on the lacrosse field,” said Joey Finnegan, Galasso’s best friend and former high school teammate. “I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous stuff from him.”

But when opposing defenses slid early to him, he’d let his vision and passing ability take over — like when he led his team to a 13-5 state championship win over Fairport (N.Y.) with just one goal and seven assists to wrap up his high school career.

“They knew I was the guy to watch out for,” Galasso said. “But I just went out there and started finding my teammates.”

Syracuse has yet to see him take over games like he did all of high school and even at UNC in 2011, when he was the ACC Freshman of the Year after scoring 56 points to lead the Tar Heels and set a school freshman record.

Now that Galasso’s injuries have subsided and he’s progressively grown more familiar with Syracuse’s offense and his role in it, maybe it’s just a matter of time before the field is his.

Said West Islip head coach Scott Craig: “It’s where he belongs, because I think he could be one of the best ever.”

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