By Jean DePlacido
---- — One reason why Ipswich’s Eric Galanis chose LeMoyne College was because almost every year the lacrosse program is a contender for a national championship. The Dolphins won NCAA Division 2 national titles in 2004, ‘06, ‘07 and did it again this year with Galanis helping to solidify the defense.
“Since I was a young kid I always wanted to win a national championship, and now I have one,” he said. “Every year our main goal is to play in the championship game and win; if we don’t get to the big game our season is a failure.”
Galanis saw his dream realized in his junior year and he isn’t the first in his family to do it. His father ,John “Bubba” Galanis, was a member of the 1973 national champion Notre Dame football team that defeated Alabama, 24-23 in a thriller. Ironically, his son’s team also pulled out a one point victory, upsetting top ranked Mercyhurst, 11-10 to win it all.
After an outstanding career for the Tigers, Bubba Galanis, an outstanding tackle/linebacker, was named First Team Parade High School All-American and received a four year football scholarship to play for the Fighting Irish where he was moved to defensive end. His son was following in his footsteps when injuries forced him to give up football in his sophomore year for the Tigers.
“When I was young I was involved in just about every sport, and started playing youth lacrosse when I was eight-years old,” he said. “I did football and wrestling in high school, but after suffering a couple of serious injuries I concentrated on lacrosse.”
Ted Flaherty, who has been involved in the Ipswich High football program for many years, felt Eric was headed for stardom until injuries forced him to stop playing. Flaherty said Eric always looked up to his father, and went through a tough time when he had to give football up.
“He was the best player on the field in freshman football,” said Flaherty, a friend of the family. “At middle linebacker he was big, strong, talented, and aggressive. I expected him to be a (high school) Hall of Fame player because he had that rare kind of talent. But at the start of his sophomore year he had a knee injury, and later a head injury so he had to stop playing. It was a pivotal time in his life.
“He turned all his energy to lacrosse, and I was amazed at how he was able to shift his focus from football to lacrosse. He went to a lot of camps and developed his skill. He is an amazing young man, who could have been a superstar at any Division 3 school, but wanted to play in a big program. He was determined to follow his dream to have a chance to win a national championship, and LeMoyne is also a great academic school so he couldn’t go wrong there.”
The Phins beat LIU Post, 9-8 in overtime in the first round of the NCAA tourney, and in the semifinals defeated Adelphi, one of two teams to beat them in the regular season, 16-13. That punched their ticket to Lincoln Financial Center in Philadelphia with the national title on the line. LeMoyne played on the same field where they won it all back in 2006.
The North No. 4 seeded Dolphins took on unbeaten Mercyhurst, ranked No. 1 in the South. LeMoyne (18-2) pulled off a stunning 11-10 upset to win its first championship in six years.
In his senior year at Ipswich High Galanis was named CAL Player of the Year for both the large and small divisions. At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds he is a force defensively and loves to break up scoring threats.
“I’ve played every position on the field,” said the marketing major, who received an academic scholarship. “I was a goalie, attackman, and midfielder. I think the experience at all the different positions has helped me a lot because you get to see the whole field.
“I love defense because it’s fun stopping people from scoring, and my size definitely helps. I was the fourth defenseman this season, but I hope to move up next year. It’s tough to come right in and play a lot at a school like LeMoyne. You have to work your way up. I made the team as a freshman, and each year I’ve seen more action.”
The big win was the 10th in a row for the Dolphins, who played in the national championship game seven of the last 10 years. Galanis said they will miss goalie Jeff White, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the championship game after making 13 saves, but several key players are returning.
“There are a lot coming back next year from my class so hopefully we’ll make it back to the championship game again,” said Galanis. “I love the school and am so glad I’m playing for such a great program. Back in high school trying to decide on college I checked out lots of highlight films of Division 1 and 2 teams. It came down to LeMoyne and Seton Hall.”
There was a big party for the team at the college, and the squad was honored at the Syracuse City Hall.
“I was already back home because exams were over by then, and those events took place a week or two after we won,” said Galanis, who received an academic scholarship to LeMoyne. Players that were from the area represented the whole team.”
While the season, is over Galanis will do everything he can this summer to stay sharp by playing in a summer league at Endicott and going to a few tournaments.
“I’ll have a summer job and workout regularly to stay in shape,” he said. “At this level lacrosse is a year round commitment, and when I go back to college fall ball will begin right away. After that we will have winter workouts. My class will have a leadership role as seniors, and try to help the younger kids make the adjustment. It would be great to finish with another national championship.”