By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/7/21
Shortly after his team had won the 2021 PIAA Class AAA championship June 12 at West Chester East, Radnor senior co-captain Mark McKeon was asked what his head coach, John Begier, did to lead the Raiders.
“He did everything,” said McKeon. “Literally everything!
“His son, Chris is, in our grade so coach has been in our life since elementary school,” he added. “When COVID hit us, he brought us together every which way he could; through zoom or socially distanced meetings, with masks on.
“He did everything the right way. Under his leadership everything, he did everything to get us to this championship. he is a great guy and a great mentor.”
The 2021 season was nearly perfect for Radnor and coach Begier. His Raptors won their second PIAA championship, defeating Kennett handily, 10-2, in the Class AAA final. The Raptors also won the Central League crown with an undefeated mark and closed the year as the No. 2 team in the Phillylacrosse.com Rankings. Meanwhile, Begier earned his 200th career win.
It was not an easy year to be a head coach, for anyone, in any sport, with COVID-19 restriction and the lost spring season of 2020. But Begier told his players to be grateful for the chance to play again and not to take it for granted at any point in the season.
“For us there was uncertainly coming into the season,” Begier said. “We didn’t know if we were only going to play league games or have district or state playoffs.
“I told the guys to just focus on what we could control. There was a lot with COVID we had no control over, so I wanted them to appreciate the chance to play and work as a family and work as hard as we could and see where it goes.”
Radnor opened the year with a 7-6 loss to La Salle and then reeled off 18 straight wins before falling to Springfield-Delco, 11-10, in the District 1 AAA semifinals. But the Raiders rebounded to trounce Kennett, 11-3, in the Third-place qualifier and rolled in PIAA competition, outscoring its four foes, 51-15.
“We wanted to focus on what we could do, day in and day out and this team showed the maturity and discipline, along with the common sense to be able to play lacrosse through COVID,” said Begier.
Begier, naturally, gave his staff the credit: the unit featured defensive coordinator John Sims, offensive coordinator Mark Petrone, Mike Podgajny, Larry Disipio, Taylor Sims and Cole Yeager. Begier pointed out Sims’ defense and how it dominated in states, especially in the title game.
“Our defense played at a high level all year,” Begier said. “We were athletic and played a 7-man unit that was really connected. They always supported each other and they played smart. You saw that in the championship game against a very good Kennett offense. It really starts with John Sims.”
Concluded McKeon: “Coach Begier he really motivated us. One thing he did was always include our late (youth) coach, coach (Peter) Samson. Coach Samson meant so much to us and to keep him in the program was important to us. We have the ‘PS’ on the back of our jerseys and that helped us every day.”