National Championship goalie … National Championship referee.
In collegiate lacrosse, you just don’t find that in the same person. That’s what makes Matt Palumb somewhat extraordinary: He’s gone from All-American netminder to one of — if not THE — best referees in the game.
The native North Syracusan played for his father, Pete, at Jamesville-DeWitt and West Genesee. A 1986 All-American and state champion at J-D, he lettered in lacrosse and football.
As a starter for legendary Hall of Famer ‘Slugger’ Simmons at Syracuse, he was 40-2. Matt was tournament MVP in 1988, his 21 saves in the title game against Cornell capping SU’s first undefeated season in 31 years.
That also was the first of SU’s NCAA championship three-peat (although its 1990 title was vacated by the NCAA).
As a senior, Palumb was an All-American on a Gait brothers-led team that is arguably the best in the history of college lacrosse. Matt set a record at that time for career saves in the NCAAs (146). During his four years at SU, he stopped 537 shots.
Almost seamlessly, Palumb moved from stick in hand to whistle in mouth. He paid his dues, moving up the ladder, working Empire State Games, Section 3 and New York State high school title games.
He has refereed 15 lacrosse Final Fours – including the last 13. He represented the USA as an official in the 2006 World Lacrosse Championships. And he’s moving up the ladder as a college basketball referee.
In 2010, he worked the Division III men’s basketball Final Four and D-I men’s lacrosse title game (one of four he’s refereed, including this year). During the summers, he officiates Major League Lacrosse.
With all that, he has a ‘real’ job in SU’s athletic department as director of donor relations. He is able to tie together alumni fundraising and officiating on the road.
Matt is that rarity in athletics — a star player who became a top-notch official. And that’s why Matt Palumb is a member of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2016.