The former face of Lacrosse, great John Zulberti has died following a drowning incident.
The news of his death was released on Monday evening through former Orange player Liam Banks, who coached youth programs with Zulberti in Atlanta saying that he got word that Zulberti died either late Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Banks said he was told Zulberti drowned, although he didn’t have details.
John was widely known as one of the most dominant players to ever take the field for lacrosse powerhouses at West Genesee and Syracuse University, he died at age 54.
Speaking further on John’s death, Liam said:
“I think there’s just a ton of sadness. He changed so many lives,” Banks said of the reaction among the lacrosse world.
Zulberti racked up 361 career points at West Genesee and went on to become a four-time All-American attack with the Orange, leading the team to national titles in 1988-89.
John was just the second player in program history to become a four-time All-American, making an immediate impact with 74 points as a freshman in 1986.
His totals for points (74) and assists (41) are still Syracuse’s freshman records.
He finished his career with 267 points, a mark that ranks sixth in program history. He also scored a point in every game of his collegiate career, a program-record 60 straight.
Zulberti was named the Jack Turnbull Award winner as the nation’s top attackman in 1988 and 1989.
“I think he’s probably the greatest high school lacrosse player to ever play the game,” said teammate Greg Burns. “Just an incredible lacrosse player. He was so athletic and quick. He was just unstoppable in high school and really he was pretty much unstoppable in college.”
Zulberti was the engine on an attack line with Burns and Tom Marechek, one of the best groupings in the history of the sport. Marechek called him the best pure feeder he’d ever seen.
“He could zip a ball in there, any angle, left or right,” Marechek said. “He almost shoots the ball to you. He could really pinpoint his passes.”
What a sad day. We lost a great player, terrific person and someone that truly loved the game of lacrosse. We started out as opponents and quickly became friends. One of SU’s greatest. He will be missed. https://t.co/Fsns4aFmPA
— David Pietramala (@CoachPetro43) August 2, 2021
Longtime teammate and friend Steve Scaramuzzino also put Zulberti in the pantheon of the sport.
“There was a lot of great lacrosse players to come out of this area,” Scaramuzzino said. “I don’t know if there was anyone greater than John Zulberti.”
Zulberti, who grew to be known as much for his thick beard as his lacrosse skills, was also one of the most personable and largest personalities in the sport.