Evan Mager has only been head coach at Morristown for three seasons, but he’s already managed to turn the Colonials from a basement-dwelling squad into a team that knows how to win.
In his first season as coach, Morristown went 7-10 and last year the team struggled to a 5-12 record. This year, the Colonials started to click and finished at 13-5 and with a share of the Independence South Division title.
“In the beginning we were not good at all, we didn’t have a good record and we needed a coach to come in and turn the program around and he definitely did that,” senior midfielder Brady Heher said. “We all bonded more as a team, my freshman and sophomore year when he just came in we weren’t close and we didn’t bond. We became a really close team and we hung out all the time and on the field that makes a difference when you’re a family and he turned it around.”
Which is why Mager is the 2013 All Daily Record Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
Mager started playing lacrosse in second grade and his desire to coach was sparked at an early age. In middle school his coaches would make his team help out with elementary school kids, “so when I was younger I had to give back and as I got older I wanted to coach,” he said.
While setting up his student teaching in Morristown, the boys coach, Jeff Bigas, who had coached Mager at FDU, tried to get Mager to volunteer with the team and eventually the position to coach the girls team opened up and Mager jumped at the opportunity. It took a while for the Colonials to adapt, but if this season is any indication, Morristown is starting to turn the corner.
“I think a big part of it was as a whole the group kind of grew up,” Mager said of Morristown’s turnaround this year. “Last year a big core of our group was freshman coming into the varsity experience right away and it was kind of intimidating. We had two captains who were juniors and the seniors knew what was sitting in our lap and the ability that we had. I had made the decision my first year that I knew what we had and what I wanted to do and they had no reservations as to why we couldn’t be as good as we wanted to. They wanted it, the whole mentality of the program is starting to change from varsity to the youth programs and they’re starting to realize the ability we have.”
After starting the season 3-2, Morristown rolled off seven-straight wins before falling to Mendham in the Morris County Tournament quarterfinals. The Colonials then won three of their next four, including a 14-6 win over Vernon in the first round of the North Group III Tournament before falling to Indian Hills in the quarterfinals.
Mager is excited to see how the team will react next season with five seniors graduating, but he has confidence that his players will want to keep getting better in order to contend with the top teams in the county and the state.
“Since I’ve been here everyone has asked, what are the goals and for my first year the main goal was a winning record and those goals never went away,” Mager said. “We finally hit that goal so for the seniors and the underclassmen to finally be able to say they accomplished a winning record, we went farther in states and in the county, they realized what we’re capable of. Since we accomplished those smaller goals, the goals are higher and even as a community the program had eyes on varsity and what we did. It was fun being in it and if anything it means the expectations have risen and we want to reach those expectations.”