By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/13/14
Penncrest’s Wayne Matsinger has been named the Phillylacrosse.com Boys’ team Coach of the Year for 2014.
Matsinger guided the Lions to their first Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) championship with a 13-7 victory over Avon Grove. The Lions went 25-1 overall and went undefeated in winning the Central League while being ranked No. 23 in the final Warrior/TopLaxRecruits.com Rankings.
Matsinger, an assistant for 11 years before becoming head coach at Penncrest, has a career mark of 221-92 overall in 15 seasons as head coach. While many coaches call their teams families, in this case it’s true; nearly every assistant Matsinger has employed has been a former Penncrest player.
Matsinger said the team’s success was a direct result of the connection between his players, and the coaching staff. In fact, he made it clear that his assistants – offensive coordinator Evan Pettit, defensive coordinator Eric Poole, Chris Derrick, Scott Rumford, Tom Davis, Jeff Pettit and Mike Baldassarre – deserved as much credit for the Coach of the Year honor.
“I pretty much let my coaches coach; that’s what they are there for,” said Matsinger, who has won four Central League titles and made two appearances in the old EPSLA Final Four. “They know I have veto power, but I let them do their things. Chris Derrick and I have been together for 15 years; that’s longer than most marriages.”
Why are Matsinger and his staff successful?
“He is a great motivator and he had us prepared for each game,” said Penncrest senior face-off/midfielder Dylan Protesto, an All-American and Phillylacrosse.com High Honorable Mention Player of the Year. “He told us before the year that this team had the potential to do something big.”
The Lions indeed did big things in 2014. They rolled through the Central League undefeated and earned the top seed in the District 1 tournament, but suffered their first and only loss, 9-5, to league rival Springfield-Delco in the District 1 quarterfinals. But the staff got the team back on track to win two elimination games in order to make states, the first being a 13-12 overtime win over Central Bucks East.
In the state tourney, Penncrest downed Bishop Shanahan, 13-10, and then rallied to top La Salle, 6-5, in the quarterfinals. After dismantling Mt. Lebanon, 15-10, in the semis, two-time District 1 champion Avon Grove stood in the path. After falling behind, 2-0, the Lions’ Will Manganiello – the Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year – got the offense on track, Dylan McCleaft was a standout in goal, Protesto dominated at the X and the rest of the team followed to help create a stunning blowout.
“You always hope from a high school standpoint that kids will execute the game plan,” said Matsinger. “The coaches laid it out to them and I couldn’t have been more proud of the way they did execute it that day.
“You try to prepare kids for every scenario; the shutoffs (on Manganiello) and everything they’d face. We told them how they’d attack us and how loud it was going to be and how hard it would be to hear us from the sidelines. The kids took control of the offense and and communicated so phenomenally well.
“I have watched the tape probably 50 times and there were very few flaws. The kids played really well.”
Matsinger, who lives and works in the Penncrest area, and his team were met on the trip back from Hershey with a parade attended by what seemed like the entire Penncrest community. Since he likes sharing his team so much, it was a thrill to see the community share in the great accomplishment.
“It’s a small school and a tight-knit community,” said Matsinger. “The community was behind us. The kids all came through the Rose Tree Optimist program. Jeff Pettit Sr. started the program and I can’t thank him enough.
“These kids are all taught the fundamentals and the coaches down there are second generation and ex-players. They all come back and help me coach. Now I am coaching their kids. It’s pretty cool that they all want to give back. There was a lot of Prenncrest pride among the alumni in the bleachers (at the state finals). People flew in from all over to watch the game.”
High Honorable Mention:
John McEvoy, Malverm Prep
Jack Lingo, Cape Henlopen