JD Colarusso of Poughquag, UAlbany lacrosse goalie making most of his turn

 

UAlbany’s goal keeper JD Colarusso (9) defends against UMBC’s Pat Dignan (1)

during a NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse game on Saturday, April 7, 2017, in Albany, N.Y.

 

JD Colarusso grew up admiring one standout University at Albany lacrosse goalkeeper in Brett Queener. Then Colarusso had to replace another in Blaze Riorden.

He has a chance to go farther in the NCAA Tournament than either Queener or Riorden, both Great Dane netminders who were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Colarusso, a redshirt junior, can help UAlbany reach its first Final Four with a victory over top-ranked Maryland in a quarterfinal at 2:30 Sunday afternoon at the Universty of Delaware.

“It’s gone good,” Colarusso said. “Being behind Blaze, he taught me a lot. He taught me how to prepare. Once he left, he was like, ‘It’s your time to shine.'”

Colarusso did just that on the most important stage with 13 saves in a 15-12 first-round victory over defending national champion North Carolina on Saturday. After the Tar Heels had cut an 11-goal deficit to only two in the fourth quarter, Colarusso made crucial stops on William Perry and Chris Cloutier in the rain with less than 10 minutes remaining to keep North Carolina from getting any closer.

¬†“He’s done it all year, though,” UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said. “JD’s been a consistent goalie all year. They were great saves, no doubt, but he’s made saves like that the whole season. Just go back to the first game against Syracuse. He had 13 saves in that game in a one-goal game (a 10-9 loss on Feb. 18).”
Back then, UAlbany’s single-biggest question entering the season might have been whether Colarusso was up to the task in replacing Riorden, a third-team All-American who started for four years.
 With that in mind, Colarusso had a heart-to-heart with his father, Joe, who was an All-America goalie in high school.

“Him and I had a talk before the season,” Joe Colarusso said. “I said, ‘You know what? You’re not trying to fill Blaze’s shoes. You’re just trying to make your own shoes. Blaze was a great goalie, just fantastic, and I know you sat behind him and learned a lot. But he’s gone, and it’s your turn now.'”

He’s been groomed for the position ever since he rooted for the 2007 UAlbany team that lost to Cornell at Princeton in the quarterfinals. He made the trip from his home in Poughquag, near Poughkeepsie, to attend Great Danes home games. He accompanied his father, who grew up with Marr in Yorktown.

JD Colarusso took notice of Queener, an honorable mention All-American known for coming out of the crease to handle the ball.

“I used to watch videos of him on YouTube all the time,” Colarusso said.

He split time between attack and goalie until eighth grade, when he chose the latter full-time. He felt it better suited his lack of size.

“I think I was just better at goalie,” he said. “Plus, I was a little small. I’m 5-8, and I’ve always wanted to play college lacrosse. I just had a better chance playing goalie.”

When the time came, it was an easy decision for Colarusso to attend UAlbany, the only school he visited.

“I was a huge Albany lacrosse fan when I was younger,” he said. “I knew this was the place where I wanted to be. I knew Coach Marr, so that was definitely big.”

UAlbany assistant coach Liam Gleason was a senior on the 2007 UAlbany team that Colarusso followed. Now Gleason is the coordinator of a UAlbany defense that allows nine goals a game, tied with Maryland for 15th in the country. Defensemen Stone Sims, AJ Kluck and Erik Dluhy have helped limit scoring chances in front of Colarusso.

Gleason also credited Colarusso for his work ethic, especially when UAlbany redshirted him last season so he could keep his two remaining years of eligibility.

“When he was being a backup, he was always practicing to be a starter, especially his redshirt year,” Gleason said. “It’s so easy to take it off. He prepared every game to be a starter even though he knew there was no chance he was going to play.”

That comes as no surprise to Joe Colarusso, who used to take shots on his son in the backyard. When they vacation in the Florida Keys during the summer, Joe Colarusso has a lacrosse cage brought down so JD can work on his game. At halftime of the North Carolina game, he juggled lacrosse balls on the sideline to work on his eye-hand coordination.

“He just wants to make himself better all the time,” Joe Colarusso said. “He did it all on his own. He’s given up a lot to try to be the best.”

 

Author: Harlem Valley News