Sophomore Joe Boulukos has a bad case of younger brother syndrome. Ever since he could walk, he has followed in his brother Evan’s ’00 footsteps. When Evan started playing lacrosse in the eighth grade, Joe wanted to tag along, though he was five years younger. And, when Evan left high school to play for Cornell, Joe wanted to go with his brother. So, when it came time for Boulukos to choose a college, he predictably wound up here on his brother’s old stomping grounds. But that’s where the similarities between the siblings end and Joe’s unique skills distinguish him, not only from Evan, but from everyone else on the field as well.
As a three-sport athlete in high school, the Huntington, N.Y., native worked hard to earn All-American status for lacrosse in 2002, an MVP award for quarterbacking his football team in the 2001 Long Island championship, and all-league honors in basketball after his senior campaign.
Despite the accolades, Boulukos swears he has shortcomings.
“My biggest weakness is probably my quickness sometimes or my conditioning,” he said. “I have to do a lot of speed work, a lot of distance work. Plus, I try to shoot about 100 balls a day.”
Whatever the 5-11, 205-pound midfielder lacks in cardiovascular shape, he makes up for with a devastating combination of size, quickness, and intelligence which has gained him a reputation as one of the best scorers on the team.
“He’s a bear to stop coming down the alleys, and he can dodge right handed, left handed. He’s also extremely explosive off the run,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “We’re kind of designing our offenses now around Joey. We feel if Joe’s taking five, six, seven shots a game, we’ve got a pretty good chance of getting some production from the midfield.”
As a rookie on the Hill, Boulukos got a chance to use his heat-seeker right away as a member of the Red’s starting midfield alongside J.P. Schalk ’03 and then-sophomore Justin Redd.
“I was just trying to get in the offense, get on the field. I tried to dodge a lot, and they’d use me in an invert set,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get the long stick last year, so I had to kind of exploit the short stick.”
Though he snuck under opponents’ radar last year, Boulukos’ play has generated enough notoriety to make him a primary target this season. In spite of the increased coverage, Boulukos has managed to increase his goal output. In only three games so far this season, he already has eight and is tied for the team lead.
“I’m always out there giving 110 percent. I do hold myself to a high standard,” he said of his effort. “My shot is probably my biggest asset. My favorite move is to shift to my left hand and, depending on the way my defenseman’s playing, I like to shoot lefty or pull back and dodge and shoot righty.”
Of all the teams on which Boulukos wishes he could use that shifty cannon, Princeton tops the list.
“If I could beat any team it’d be Princeton. Being on the Cornell lacrosse team, you have this ingrown hatred of them,” he said.
According to Tambroni, Boulukos may be at a level that will push him and, hopefully the rest of the Red past Princeton this year or for the next two.
“Joe is an All-American at the midfield as a sophomore, and by the time he’s done here, he’s going to be one of the best middies in the country. He just seems to get better as the situations get more difficult.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson