LATROBE, PA – The Saint Vincent College Department of Athletics has announced the hiring of 2011 graduate Zach Wilfong as head men’s lacrosse coach, replacing longtime head coach Peter Tulk, who has announced his retirement.
A four-year men’s lacrosse standout for the Bearcats from 2008-11, Wilfong returns to his alma mater with considerable coaching experience, most recently serving as head coach at La Roche University.
“I am truly grateful and tremendously excited for the opportunity to return to my alma mater and lead the Saint Vincent College men’s lacrosse program,” said Wilfong. “I want to thank (college president) Father Paul Taylor, O.S.B., Professor Bruce Antkowiak, (athletic director) Father Myron Kirsch, O.S.B., and the rest of the administration, for speaking with me during this process. I look forward to working with them in the future. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank coach Peter Tulk. He has been my coach, my mentor and my friend since 2006. Over the course of two decades, he built the foundation for Saint Vincent lacrosse and formed countless relationships along the way. I have no doubt that his legacy will be endearing. I thank him for entrusting me to become the next head coach.
“I look forward to joining the Saint Vincent community,” continued Wilfong, “which is full of amazing people dedicated to providing a quality experience for all students. My mission at SVC will be to foster amazing relationships, uphold our student-athletes to the highest standards and compete for Presidents’ Athletic Conference championships. Go Bearcats!”
“Zach is a great addition to our coaching staff,” said SVC athletic director Father Myron Kirsch, O.S.B. “He is an alum, he knows the game well and will bring a mountain of energy. I look forward to working with him.”
Named head coach at La Roche in September, Wilfong’s influence was quickly felt, as the Redhawks went 2-2 in a 2020 season that was abbreviated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It marked the best four-game start to the season for the Redhawks since 2013, while the two wins were already the most in a single season by a La Roche team since 2016.
Prior to his time at La Roche, Wilfong served as head coach of the men’s lacrosse club team at the University of Pittsburgh for the 2019 season. Six of his players earned All-Continental Lacrosse Conference (CLC) honors, while he led the team to the quarterfinals of the CLC playoffs.
For the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Wilfong served as offensive coordinator at NCAA Division II power Seton Hill University. In 2017, he helped lead the Griffins to a 12-6 record and their first-ever Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) championship. A season later, the Griffins repeated as GMAC champs and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament for the first time in team history. Seton Hill finished the season with a 17-2 overall record, with Wilfong presiding over an offense that averaged 16.4 points per game to rank first in NCAA Division II.
In 2016, Wilfong was an assistant coach at Ohio Northern University, helping the Polar Bears to an 8-7 overall record in their first season of competition. He began his coaching career with a three-year stint as assistant coach at Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School.
Wilfong remains one of the most decorated players in the 34-year history of men’s lacrosse at Saint Vincent College. As a senior in 2011, he became just the second player in team history to eclipse 200 career points and still ranks fifth all-time with 201. His 81 career assists rank fourth in team history and his 120 career goals are good for seventh. A three-year team captain for the Bearcats, Wilfong was the first player from Saint Vincent College ever selected to complete in the prestigious United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Division III North-South All-Star Game in 2011.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, he graduated from SVC in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in history.
Tulk is the winningest coach in the history of the SVC men’s lacrosse program, amassing an overall record of 140-122 during his 19-year tenure, which covered two stints (2000-09, 2011-20). The Bearcats finished .500 or better in 13 of Tulk’s 19 seasons, including seven seasons with nine or more wins, while he coached each of the 21 100-point scorers in team history.
“My time at Saint Vincent has been great,” Tulk said. “I love coaching and I am certainly going to miss it. I enjoyed every part of coaching the lacrosse program, hence why I came back for a second stint. I just think it’s time to get some new, young blood to lead the program. I thoroughly enjoyed developing the relationships with student-athletes through the years. There’s no doubt I am going to miss it. It’s becoming a young man’s game and it feels like the right time to step away from coaching and give someone else the reigns.”
“Peter has been a solid, dedicated and knowledgeable leader of our lacrosse program for many years,” said Father Myron. “He has set the foundation for further growth and we are glad he’s still a member of the Saint Vincent community.”
Tulk was named the third head coach in SVC men’s lacrosse history prior to the 2000 season after successful head coaching stints at Mt. Lebanon and Franklin Regional High Schools in suburban Pittsburgh.
During his initial 10-year tenure at SVC, Tulk guided the Bearcats to a 69-61 mark. In the 2000 season, his first behind the bench, the Bearcats went 9-4, establishing a new team record for wins in a season. His 2004 team equaled the 9-win mark, before the 2005 Bearcats finished 11-1. The 2004 and 2005 squads were paced by the tandem of brothers Ian and Bryan Poole, who combined for 283 goals and 314 points. Both Poole brothers would go on to play professionally in British Columbia in the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA), while their SVC teammate, Rob Van Beek, enjoyed a lengthy professional career in both the WLA and the National Lacrosse League.
After stepping down from his post following the 2009 season, Tulk returned as the Bearcats’ head coach for the 2012 campaign, turning in a record of 71-61 during this second stint.
In 2013, the Bearcats were edged in the finals of the first Presidents’ Athletic Conference Men’s Lacrosse Championship Tournament, but would earn revenge a season later when they won the first conference title in program history with a 16-11 victory over Thiel College at Chuck Noll Field.
Tulk led the Bearcats to the championship game of the Ohio River Lacrosse Conference (ORLC) in 2015, 2017 and 2018, and was selected the 2017 ORLC Coach of the Year. The 2018 squad was the most successful in team history, setting a team mark with 15 wins, including a 10-0 mark in regular season conference play. That team featured three of the top 20 scorers in program history, led by Jeremy Kennedy, who scored a school-record 243 points over his four-year career (2016-19).
In 2019, the Bearcats finished 6-1 in Presidents’ Athletic Conference play, advancing to the conference quarterfinals, before Tulk’s final team went 3-1 during the shortened 2020 season.
“I want to thank Br. Norman Hipps. O.S.B. (former provost and president) and Father Myron for what they’ve done for me over the years,” Tulk said. “I always felt very comfortable and that this was the best place for me. I also want to thank Father Paul Taylor, O.S.B. When I first arrived at Saint Vincent, he said something to me that I have always appreciated - ‘we recruit alumni, not freshmen.’ That has always stuck with me and I feel like I always recruited that way. We consistently get more than 40 alumni to come back for our alumni game each fall, and that shows me the positive experiences they had at Saint Vincent, both as a student and an athlete.”
While Tulk is stepping away from his lacrosse duties, he will remain on the staff of the Saint Vincent College Small Business Development Center, which he has been a part of since arriving at SVC in 2000.
“I’m excited to still be a part of the College working in economic development,” he said. “My training is in economic injury and disaster laws and I am happy to share my knowledge and experience with others.”
Tulk is also excited to be handing the reigns of the program over to one of his former mentors.
“I have a very good relationship with Zach and he was one of the best players in our program’s history,” stated Tulk. “He has worked with some talented coaches at Seton Hill and Ohio Northern and he did an outstanding job at Pitt. With the way this season started, he was on track at La Roche. I am excited for him and the program for the foreseeable future. I will still be on campus and if he ever needs any support, I will be there for him.”
PHOTO 1: Zach Wilfong
PHOTO 2: Peter Tulk
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