The signature sports moment for 2021 Towson Times Male Athlete of the Year Evan Jones came on the soccer field during his junior year at Towson High in 2019.
Early in overtime of the Baltimore County championship game against Hereford, Jones got an assist on the game-winning goal by Elijah Alexander.
Jones, who didn’t see a lot of playing time during the season, used the moment to help him prepare for a senior year interrupted by COVID-19 restrictions that pushed the fall and spring sports into 2021.
“The season ends hard sometimes when you don’t get a lot of playing time, but in that overtime game, I didn’t start that game, but he put me in and I did well, so he kept me in that game and went it went to overtime I was just locked in,” Jones said. “I was really focused and I just took it down the sideline, saw our striker and I crossed it to him and it was a beautiful finish and it was a great feeling.”
The play certainly made an impression on soccer coach Randy Dase.
“He came in and took the ball down the right side and crossed it and got the assist on the winning championship goal to beat Hereford,” Dase recalled. “That vision of him taking the ball down and crossing really stood out in my mind, so this year he played every game, started every game and was just outstanding.”
Jones, who played club lacrosse during the summer, still worked on his soccer skills during his free time.
“I just went up to Towson on the turf with a friend or two and went out and passed, dribbled and shot,” he said. “We worked on that in the offseason and I think that really helped me for my senior season.”
In his senior year Jones had four goals and four assists and controlled the midfield for an 8-0 squad that was the best team in Baltimore County.
“He was probably in my mind the most improved player on our team this year,” Dase said. “He had a knack of knowing he could score and in soccer not everybody is blessed with that special ability. He could get up and down the field, play good ‘D’ and he was a stabilizing force for us on the right side of the midfield.”
The Generals weren’t deterred by a shortened fall schedule that was not officially put into play until February.
“We played really well as a team, so just having that chemistry allowed us to really do well in the season and go undefeated,” Jones said.
During the winter, Jones found out they would have a lacrosse season.
“As soon as we heard that we had this group chat and we got together a bunch of times and did small-sided games and just worked together as a team before the season,” he said.
That teamwork carried through the entire season as the 9-2 Generals lost only two games by the same 7-6 score.
The first came against Catonsville in a game Jones helped the Generals rally late in the third quarter.
Trailing 6-4, the Generals scored two goals in 14 seconds to tie the game. Will Derbyshire scored off a feed by Jones and Jones scored on a breakaway with 19 seconds left.
He finished with two goals and two assists against the Comets and the Generals used that loss as motivation for the rest of the season.
“Obviously, people don’t like losing, so after that loss, we weren’t worried about it too much,” he said. “We played a great game, they just had two really good kids on that team that committed to Maryland (junior goalie Brian Ruppel) and Towson (junior defenseman James Azbill).”
Jones and Hereford’s Austin Clarke joined Ruppel and Azbill on the Maryland State Lacrosse Coaches Association All-State Public School First Team. They were the only Baltimore County players selected.
He was also voted High School All-American by the Greater Baltimore Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse, along with teammate and faceoff specialist Kyle Ketterman, Ruppel and Azbill.
In an 11-6 victory over C. Milton Wright in the state semifinals, Jones scored five goals and in the championship loss to Urbana he had two goals and two assists.
“He was a big part of our offense,” Towson coach Rick Brocato said. “He kind of sensed when we needed a little shot in the arm and the great ones do that. He knew how to capture and sense that moment and make something happen for us.”
Jones finished the season with 51 goals and 33 assists.
“He was our quarterback, he was the guy that could beat you off the dribble, he could dodge to score, he could read,” Brocato said. “He was one of the best offensive players Towson has had since Spencer Ford in 1995. He was a really, really terrific lacrosse player, one of the best I’ve coached for sure.”
Jones recalled his most memorable game was a 14-9 win over Hereford, because it was a complete team effort.
“We went up on them 10-2 at halftime or something and you never really see that from us, put up that many goals in that short of time,” he said. “We came into that game knowing that they were going to be really good competition and seeing us work really well as a team and absolutely dominate the first half really shocked me. I was surprised how good we could really be.”
As good as his statistics were, he didn’t boast about them.
“He was a little bit of a throwback athlete of just being quiet, but getting the job done, but being highly successful,” said Dase, who was an assistant coach for the lacrosse team. “He might score three or four goals in lacrosse and have two assists and you wouldn’t even know it.”
Brocato cherished his poise under pressure.
“He’s an unflappable player,” Brocato said. “He doesn’t play with a ton of emotion, but he plays with high energy and never gets too high, never gets too low, he kind of just floats on that even keel, which keeps him really poised and composed and the guys feed off of that.”
Before the spring lacrosse season, Jones committed to the University of Maryland, where he plans to play club soccer and club lacrosse, while focusing on getting his degree and majoring in economics.
“I didn’t get too many offers before the season, so once I figured I got into Maryland it’s a really good academic school and I thought it was great for me that I could continue playing both soccer and lacrosse at the club level,” he said. “I could focus on academics at a really well-known school and I thought it was a good fit for me.”
Brocato noted he received several inquiries from some quality Division III programs after the championship game.
“He was really a guy that was under everybody’s radar. I called a lot of people over the summer and I think he was kind of a victim of COVID,” Brocato said. “There wasn’t a lot of film out there on him. We sent film around, but I think certainly he was one of the guys that really got slipped between the cracks.”
When Jones emerged from the cracks in 2021 he was the rock and captain for two teams, but he just appreciated the opportunity to contribute.
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“This was a really great year for me,” he said. “For everything that has been happening, I was really surprised with how well everything turned out and I’m really grateful for it.”