Written by Andrew Capitelli (SJC-LI Sports Inforamtion)
Patchogue, NY| St. Joseph's College (L.I.) women's lacrosse team head coach Bob Vlahakis announced his retirement on Thursday morning after seven years with the program.
Vlahakis was announced as the first head coach in program history on February 14, 2011 and led the women's lacrosse team to back-to-back Skyline Conference titles and NCAA Tournament Second Round appearances in 2015 and 2016.
Under Vlahakis' tutelage, the Golden Eagles posted a 73-40 overall record and an impressive 41-6 mark in Skyline Conference play. SJC qualified for the conference playoffs in all six seasons during the Vlahakis era and appeared in the conference final the past four seasons.
"Starting the program at St. Joseph's was among the most rewarding experiences I've had in my coaching career," reflected Vlahakis. "The kids were beyond wonderful and a pleasure to work with, on and off the field."
In the program's first season, SJC posted a 9-9 record and qualified for the Skyline playoffs with a 6-2 conference mark. After falling to Montclair in the semifinal, the Golden Eagles competed in the ECAC Metro Tournament for the first time.
"The first year at St. Joseph's was a blast but challenging," Vlahakis remembers. "Recruiting for a new program was difficult and only about one-third of the players on our inaugural team had ever played lacrosse in high school. But the kids were eager to learn and we went on to have a great season, which created a strong foundation for our program. In the years to come we secured top recruits and became a force in the metropolitan area."
After a 12-6 mark (8-2 Skyline) in 2013, Vlahakis and the Golden Eagles posted what is still a program high of 15 wins in 2014 and reached the Skyline Conference final for the first time, but were defeated by Farmingdale State, 9-8. Making another ECAC appearance, this time in the Mid-Atlantic Tournament, SJC reached the final for the first and only time but were topped by top-seeded Lebanon Valley.
In 2015 and 2016, the program posted identical 14-5 (7-0 Skyline) records and won back-to-back Skyline Conference championships. Both titles preceded NCAA Tournament appearances and First-Round victories.
This past season, Vlahakis and the Golden Eagles went 9-9 (7-1) and suffered their first defeat to a conference opponent (Farmingdale) since the 2014 Skyline final on March 28. After dismissing Old Westbury 14-6 in the semis, second-seeded SJC dropped the conference final to Farmingdale by a score of 16-5.
During Vlahakis' six-year tenure, the team produced 32 Skyline All-Conference selections, two ECAC All-Stars, an IWLCA All-Region performer and the 2016 Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Additionally, Vlahakis was named Skyline Conference Coach of the Year after the 2013 and 2015 seasons.
Off the field, Vlahakis and the team took part in annual community service activities, like the Christmas Magic program in Center Moriches, NY, which provides Christmas gifts to local needy children. Additionally, the program hosted local veterans for the annual Veterans Day Clinic & Showcase for the past five years.
Prior to his time with SJC, Vlahakis, who was a former English and social studies teacher for 30 years, led the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls lacrosse team to four New York State Championships (2007-10), five Long Island Championships ('06-'10) and seven Suffolk County Championships ('04-'10). The team was also the recipient of New York State Scholar-Athlete Team awards from 2004 to 2010.
Additionally, Vlahakis was honored with three Long Island Coach of the Year and seven consecutive Suffolk County "C" Coach of the Year awards in girls lacrosse.
Vlahakis also coached the boys and girls soccer programs at Shoreham-Wading River High School and garnered four Long Island Championships, five Suffolk County Championships and nine Coach of the Year awards.
At 67 years of age, and with six grandchildren in different parts of the country, Vlahakis feels the time is right to retire from coaching lacrosse. He plans on bringing together former players from his 14 years of coaching women's lacrosse to help him start a non-profit charitable lacrosse volunteer group with the goals of providing positive lacrosse and life experiences to both special needs and less fortunate children in Suffolk County.