Phillylacrosse.com is pleased to honor the accomplishments of the top players from 2018 re-posting its annual All-Phillylacrosse.com series
By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/15/18
Bishop Shanahan and Malvern Prep ended their seasons with championships – and they did in convincing style.
The coaches behind the success, Jon Heisman (Shanahan) and John McEvoy (Malvern) have been named the 2018 Phillylacrosse.com Co-Coaches of the Year
Heisman guided the Eagles to a 22-1 season and their first state championship, a 14-5 victory over Strath Haven in the PIAA Class AA final. Shanahan closed with 18 straight wins.
McEvoy led the Friars to their first Inter-Ac League championship in four years with a 17-13 triumph over Haverford School in the league’s first championship decided by a tournament. His team finished the year as the No. 1 team by Phillylacrosse.com.
Between them, Heisman (456-133 lifetime) and McEvoy (229-62) have 685 wins. But few were more impressive than their last victories.
Co-Coach of the Year Jon Heisman (Bishop Shanahan)
Heisman – in his ninth year at Shanahan – knew the team had a chance to make history.
“I said in the beginning of the year this group was special,” he said. “They had been together for a lot of years and they cared for each other.
“They were obviously very talented and they believed in and did everything we asked of them.”
The Eagles placed second in the Ches-Mont League race and then began to dominate in the playoffs, first routing two-time defending state champion Springfield-Delco, 14-4, in the District 1 final and then winning handily three times to reach the PIAA title game vs. Strath Haven – a team it defeated 9-6 in the District 1 semifinals.
In the rematch, the Panthers jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first period, but Shanahan outscored them, 9-0, in the second half and and rolled to a 13-5 victory.
“Ever since I got to this program, he (Heisman) challenged us to win a state championship,” said Shanahan junior All-Ches-Mont LSM Connor Whalen.
Heisman said the Eagles did not panic after falling behind.
“We had a couple bad breaks, they scored on a man up and a couple bounces didn’t go our way,” he said. “The kids didn’t falter. They stuck with the game plan. We had been a great second-half team all year. They really believed in themselves.”
Heisman is one of the deans of coaching in Philly. He took Springfield-Delco to a state crown in the old Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association in 1992. He also lost in the state finals three times (1994, ’96, ’97) and reached the Final Four six times. He later had six successful seasons as coach at West Chester East and has been 144-37 at Shanahan, but had never taken his team past the first round of the PIAA tourney in three previous trips.
“We started working for this last fall,” said Eagles senior All-League defenseman Thomas Ford. “It all just led up to this. He always pushed us to be the best we could possibly be. He knows how to coach – it’s the fifth or sixth time he’s been here.”
“He always seems to know what the team needs,” said senior Dan Bathon, who had two goals in the title game. “If we are looking lackadaisical, one day he might not go crazy and just change up practice. He is an amazing guy; I can’t say enough about him.”
Co-Coach of the Year John McEvoy (Malvern Prep)
The Friars were considered an Inter-Ac League favorite, but had their disappointments in 2018. They fell to Haverford School and Episcopal Academy in the Inter-Ac League’s regular season and dropped one-goal games to Conestoga and New Jersey power Delbarton.
But in the Inter-Ac title game against Haverford, the Friars raced to a 5-0 first-period lead and stretched it to 11-2 at halftime. Haverford made a late rally, but the big lead was to much to overcome. It was the Friars’ first league title since 2014 when they were undefeated.
“The kids played well; we had a lot of talented players and that’s stating the obvious,” said McEvoy. “It wasn’t just one player that played well in that (title game). It seemed like all them did. In other games I didn’t think we all played the way we could. But after this game I was proud because we didn’t walk away with any regrets.”
The game-p;an for the championship game had Malvern shadowing Haverford School standout attackman TJ Malone everywhere he went. The strategy worked, and the Friars also dominated possessions and converted their opportunities.
“Coach McEvoy’s knowledge about the game of lacrosse is unlike anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Malvern Prep senior All-American midfield/attackman Jack Traynor. “When there’s a challenge he always has the way to solve it.
“He has the ability to predict plays before they happen and determine exactly how the opponents defense will react to certain plays and sets. Aside from his extensive knowledge of the game he knows how to get the most out of his players.”
Traynor said McEvoy has always had great respect from his players, but gained even more with the way he handled the loss of his mother just days before the title game.
“Coach McEvoy wanted that Inter-Ac championship more than anybody,” Traynor said. “Coach McEvoy’s Mom passed away a few days before the Inter-Ac playoffs started. And during this hard time in his life he still found a way to put the team before him and lead us into that final game.
“Coach game planned perfectly in the championship game. He spent countless hours before and after practice thinking and preparing. He’s dedicated to Malvern Prep lacrosse. Without him we would not have captured the Inter-Ac title.
“He’s a great leader and a great influence on all the guys. He pushes all of us to be the best version of ourselves in all aspects of our life. He connects lacrosse to valuable life lessons in order to help us become better people and teammates.”
McEvoy – inducted in the Eastern PA Chapter of the US Lacrosse Hallf of Fame in 2007 – was head coach of Malvern Prep from 2003-2009 and won five league titles and a state title. He took off three years to take care of his family and returned as coach in 2012.
“One of his main lessons was when we run laps – we make sure not to cut the corners,” said Traynor. “Because if you cut corners in little things like lacrosse then you’re going to become a corner cutter in all aspects of life. Bad habits can shape you.”