Dominic Lamolinara’s journey from Arnold to Philadelphia – the site of this weekend’s Final Four at Lincoln Financial Field – has gone a circuitous route, graduating from St. Mary’s to spending one year at Maryland to transferring to Syracuse to emerging as the Orange’s starting goalkeeper.
The path has been long and meandering, but the wait has been worth it for Lamolinara, who is part of a Syracuse program that is back in the NCAA tournament semifinals for the first time since 2009.
“For me, it’s a dream come true,” the junior said Wednesday morning, three days before the top-seeded Orange (15-3) tangle with fourth-seeded Denver (14-3). “Obviously, I wasn’t around for the 2009 championship, but I’ve been growing up playing lacrosse in my backyard wishing to play in one of these things. So starting at Maryland knowing I probably wasn’t going to play to now being a starter is a dream come true.”
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Lamolinara, who went 1-2 in three starts last year, did not open the season as the team’s starting goalie. That honor went to sophomore Bobby Wardwell, who had started the last nine contests of 2012.
Wardwell started the first five games, but at halftime of a home contest against Johns Hopkins on March 16, coach John Desko elected to replace Wardwell – who had made three saves while allowing six goals – with Lamolinara.
“Bobby was doing OK, but we weren’t getting anything extra,” Desko recalled Tuesday. “We weren’t getting that special save. So I decided to go with Dom at halftime, and the first thing he did was make a one-on-one save. So he made me look good with his play. And then he just played well the rest of the game and we had a convincing win against Hopkins and he’s just been able to produce. Even in the Yale game [in Saturday’s NCAA tournament quarterfinal], they had one opportunity – when we were tied – to go ahead and he stuffed them on a one-on-one situation. He’s always been a very good communicator with the defense and good out of the goal. I think he had seven ground balls in the Yale game, which gave us seven possessions we might not have had. ... He’s been able to produce and play well from that point on.”
Lamolinara backstops a defense that is the stingiest among the four teams left in the tournament as opponents have averaged just 8.6 goals this defense. The pressure on Lamolinara to help the Orange push their Division I-leading national title ledger to 11 is palpable, but he shrugged off that expectation.
“There’s always a weight for a goalie,” Lamolinara said. “I’ve had that in high school, I’ve had that in youth league, and I have it again here, but it’s nothing too much. [Senior] Brian Megill and [redshirt senior] Dave Hamlin have been shutting down every team’s top two attackmen, and [sophomore] Sean Young has been anchoring the middle and shutting down every team’s crease guy. … [S]topping the ball, I know I can do that, and with the defense in front of me, they make it easy.”