Look no further than Steinert High School to find one of the most prolific twin brother scoring tandems in Mercer County, as Evan and Tommy McGovern combined for 63 goals and 17 assists this spring.
OK, while that may not be fake news, it could probably be construed as misleading news.
The two did amass those numbers together. But of those totals, Tom garnered two assists and did not have a goal. And both of his helpers went to Evan. Then again, his job is to defend, not score.
In that sense, both players were valuable assets to a Steinert team that tied the school record for victories during a 10-8 season. In the process, Evan set the Spartan mark for most goals in a season.
“They’re at different ends of the field and they’re very different as far as personality goes too,” coach Bob Ziegler said. “But they’ve been contributors since day one. Tommy has started every game and Evan has gotten in every game, he’s been a three-year starter and played a lot as a freshman. They’ve been a great asset the last four years to have. They complement each other very well.”
The brothers come from an athletic family. Their father, Joe, was a slick fielding shortstop for McCorristin High (now Trenton Catholic Academy) and Trenton State College (now College of New Jersey), while their mom, Marianne, played softball. Sister Keara swam, played field hockey and dabbled in lacrosse, but the brothers joke she was not an influence where lax is concerned.
“We’ve got her in athletics, but she’s got us in intelligence,” Evan said with a laugh.
Unlike their parents, the boys grew disinterested with playing on the diamond and were looking for more action.
“We kind of got tired of the whole baseball thing,” Tommy said. “We wanted to do something new.”
“It was way too slow,” Evan added. “It was getting to the point where little league was about to end, and we just decided to try something new. We saw lacrosse, decided to try it. We went from there, played every now and then, then we started to get into it more.”
The brothers began recreation play with the Hamilton Falcons before moving to the Allentown Dragons for two years. Interestingly, they never played travel but were set on playing in high school.
Upon making the Steinert varsity, Tommy made an immediate impact and started defensively.
“Ever since I started, I just loved playing defense,” he said. “I don’t know why. Just something about it.”
He has the mindset for it, and actually made 42 tackles last fall playing for Steinert’s football team.
“Tommy can be a little more ill-tempered than Evan, a little nastier,” Ziegler said. “He’s a defender so he’s very aggressive with the stick. He’s a good defender. He can run, he can pass, he can do everything you’re looking for from a D pole.”
Tommy did not score a point his first two years but remained solid in the back. He had his best statistical season as a junior with four goals, four assists and 24 ground balls. Meanwhile, Evan was getting the headlines with his scoring exploits but there was no jealousy.
“I don’t really care too much, I just like seeing him do well,” Tommy said.
Evan had just two goals and three assists while seeing moderate playing time as a freshman. Conner Braddock, whose record he broke, was the big scorer back then and Evan watched and learned.
“I definitely picked some things up from other teammates,” he said.
Evan had played midfield throughout his rec career and also during his first two seasons with the Spartans. He upped his scoring to 16 goals and 16 assists as a sophomore and after being moved to attack as a junior, tallied 36 goals and 22 assists.
“My sophomore year I would come in on offense as a midfielder but I would still play behind the goal,” he said. “I just liked it better playing attack. I wanted to do attack. I felt I was pretty good at shooting.”
So did Ziegler.
“Evan is that guy most of the time that’s getting those quick stick goals, driving the net,” the coach said.
He waited until his final season to explode with 63 goals, including the 100th of his career, along with 15 assists. He broke Braddock’s record on May 6 with his 59th goal in a loss to West Windsor-Plainsboro South.
“I’m very shocked I was able to do that,” he said. “I had no idea I would be even close to that. It’s crazy. It’s great, I love it.”
Tommy, naturally, was proud of his brother.
“We’re very close, we’ve always been close to each other,” Evan said.
“Yeah, we always hang out together,” Tommy said, adding with a smile, “It’s hard not to.”
They also ply their trade against each other. Being that one is on offense and the other is defense, they make for natural workout partners.
“Yeah we go at it in practice,” Evan said. “Sometimes we go in the backyard. They’re kind of friendly, but sometimes not so much.”
Tommy grinned when those encounters are brought up.
“It’s intense,” he said. “Sometimes we go a little easy, sometimes we turn it up. Tempers flare, we get in a little argument, curse each other out and stuff. But nothing too big.”
The bottom line is, it improves both of their games.
“Mutually, we just make each other better,” Tommy said.
Evan agreed, saying, “I think it helps a lot. He’s really hard to get past for me. When I try to dodge him, he knows what I do with pretty much everything.”
With their high school careers ended, the two will move on to play with Mercer County Community College. Because they did not play travel, they were not seen by many recruiters.
“They actually just won the regional championship,” Evan said. “We were looking at other colleges and thinking it’s a lot of money, especially for both of us to go to college because it’s double everything. So we just decided it would probably be easier. And we didn’t know exactly what we wanted. Plus the Mercer coach (Rob Siris) saw us and reached out to us.”
The brothers are hoping a successful career at MCCC could lead to a four-year school.
“It’s gonna be great,” Tommy said. “We’re gonna be a whole lot better.”
He then turned to Evan with a playful smirk and added, “Just don’t get on my nerves too much.”