Bishop Shanahan surges past Strath Haven for first-ever PIAA state boys' lacrosse crown

Bishop Shanahan team captains, including Kyle Pollick, left, and C. Tristan Lynch, right, celebrate after being presented PIAA Class 2A boys’ lacrosse championship trophy at West Chester East High School on Saturday.

From the crowd late Saturday afternoon, a familiar refrain could be heard.

‘E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!’

Just like the ones typically heard at Lincoln Financial Field, the cheers coming from the Bishop Shanahan fans were for a soon-to-be champion.

With a second-half onslaught, the District 1 champion Eagles surged, coming from down, 4-0, to take out Strath Haven, 13-5, as Bishop Shanahan captured its first-ever state championship in the PIAA boys’ Class 2A lacrosse final at West Chester East’s Harold Zimmerman Stadium.

Although seven Eagles got in on the scoring action, sophomore midfielder Gabriel Goforth led the way, cashing in four times, including the go-ahead score with just less than six minutes to play in the third quarter.

It was only fitting that Shanahan’s experienced leader, head coach Jon Heisman, after 33 years of teaching at East, got to lift his first PIAA state title.

Camera icon CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Gabriel Goforth (left) of Bishop Shanahan celebrates with teammates Dan Bathon (center) and Michael Tagliaferri after scoring a goal in the second quarter.

“There’s no feeling in the world like this,” Heisman said. “This is my 29th year as a head coach, I’ve been in four state championships and have had some disappointments along the way. This year, there were no disappointments.”

In the early minutes, it looked as if an entirely different story would be told. Strath Haven quickly jumped out, 4-0, bookended by a pair of tallies from junior Liam Carney. But after the Eagles were shut out in the opening stanza, they responded with the next four goals as senior Dan Bathon provided the first two and an answer.

At halftime, Shanahan was staring at a 5-4 deficit, but the Eagles did not allow a goal the rest of the way.

“Our shots weren’t falling, they were getting 50-50 balls,” senior midfielder Andrew Smyth said. “The main thing was our aggressiveness. We came out flat, so we turned it up.”

Smyth got the opening score of the second half to tie things up, putting it home after a near-perfect pass from classmate Kyle Gucwa behind the net. With each goal, the pressure on Strath Haven mounted as the Panthers fell into a deeper hole.

Camera icon CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
James Bevevino (left) of Bishop Shanahan falls to the turf as a group of players pursue the ball in the third quarter.

By the end of the third, Shanahan led, 8-5, and although there were opportunities for the Panthers to turn the tide, sloppy play and a lack of goals did them no favors.

“[The momentum comes from] our confidence and our belief in each other,” Smyth said. “We love to play. It’s going to be hard to wake up next week knowing there’s no practice.”

The Eagles poured in a half-dozen goals in the last 12 minutes to salt away the victory. And in his final game with his dad, Shanahan senior attackman Connor Heisman scored the Eagles’ 10th of the day, doubling up Strath Haven and giving the Heisman family one last celebratory moment before their youngest son heads off to college this fall.

“I kind of persuaded my youngest one to come along with dad,” the elder Heisman said. “It wasn’t easy… but being here and being able to win a state title with him is extra special.”

Strath Haven           4  1  0  0 —  5
Bishop Shanahan    0  4  3  6 — 13
SH: Liam Carney 2, Jeffrey Conner 1, Ethan Belville 1, Chris Rosini 1
BS: Gabriel Goforth 4, James Bevevino 2, Connor Heisman 2, Bryan Rafferty 2, Andrew Smyth 1, Kyle Gucwa 1, Thomas Ford 1
Saves: SH- Will Brake 5, Vincey Palermo 4. BS- Nicholas Pezone 6