For Natick’s Colby LeBlanc, playing football and basketball fueled his men’s lacrosse success

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“He helped everyone [of] his teams are taking it to the next level,” Kittler said.

Last spring, LeBlanc helped the Redhawks go 12-2 and the program’s first trip to the state quarterfinals.

“It feels good to beat another team to say, at the end of the day, ‘I just did something better than you’ and go out there and go for it,” LeBlanc said.

Captain in three sports, LeBlanc said he wasn’t concerned about his scoring numbers; instead, he focuses on helping his teammates improve. His 90 points are punctuated by more than 50 assists.

On the gridiron, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound LeBlanc embraces the physicality of the sport, and it pays off with lacrosse.

“Even as a quarterback, sometimes when you get the ball, [football is] a physical game, you have to be tough to play it,” he said. “The same as lacrosse, I mean, it’s not easy to just take swings from those D-posts when they’re laying down wood.”

The foot motion and defensive slides of the basketball court are similar to lacrosse. Learning to exploit defenses on the pitch helped him when defenders turned to him as an attacker.

Division 1 college coaches, Kittler said, are noticing success outside of lacrosse.

“They want you to be in as many different locker rooms as possible, and I think playing three sports has definitely helped Colby have the spring he has right now,” Kittler said.

At St. John’s Prep, coach John Pynchon encourages all of its athletes to broaden their skills with other teams.

jimmy ayers and Thomas Sarni, who are committed to Johns Hopkins and Providence respectively, form one of the best attacking pairs in the state. In the winter, the pair helped the Eagles win the Division 1 hockey title, with Sarni scoring four goals in the final.

“I mean, our message is clear,” Pynchon said. “We want multi-sport athletes.”

Second-year midfielder Jake Vana is a soccer/hockey/lacrosse athlete in Prep. Every sport is lightning fast, and his experience with each feeds the rest.

“Even though I’m just a sophomore, I feel like after playing two varsity sports, I can really be a leader on the court because I know what it takes to be a leader. varsity athlete and being on a championship team,” Vana mentioned. “So I really think the experience helps me a lot.”

Like Vana, Tyee Ambroise is a top-ranked prep midfielder (13-1) and a three-sport athlete. As a sophomore, he and a teammate were looking for a way to prepare for lacrosse after his football season ended. They decided to pursue the indoor track, and two years later the eldest committed to running at Babson.

On the lacrosse field, his speed work from the inside lane, as well as his agility and physicality as a football cornerback translates well.

“I made my best friends through lacrosse and football, being my closest guys, and for the senior year, I didn’t really want to give that up,” Ambrose said.

Pynchon said 39 of the Eagles’ 50 athletes have competed in another varsity sport this year.

“We kind of try to emphasize as many ways as possible that we want guys to do multiple sports,” Pynchon said.

“[College coaches] I want you to be in as many different locker rooms as possible, and I think playing three sports has definitely helped Colby have the spring he has right now.” NATHAN KITTLER, Natick Lacrosse Coach on Colby LeBlanc (center) .Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Quick sticks

Nate Petrie had a longer route than most to the college grounds.

When the elder finally took the field for Hopkinton this week, Petrie scored his first goal on his first shot – the culmination of years of hard work as he battled injury.

“It was really, really good,” Petrie said. “It was just a moment of elation where I felt so relieved, and it was just something I’ve wanted to do and work on for so long.”

Prior to his first season, Petrie broke both wrists. Its second season was canceled due to the pandemic. Then, a torn anterior cruciate ligament robbed him of a junior season. A dislocated kneecap delayed his start this spring before he finally made his debut on Monday in a 10-6 win over Algonquin.

Coach Hopkinton Dan Norton picked Petrie as captain ahead of the season because whether he was sidelined or not, Petrie still shows himself ready to be a leader.

▪ In the Championships category of the Independent Schools League Tournament, eighth seed Governor’s Academy pulled off a 12-11 upset over top seed Belmont Hill. In Saturday’s semi-finals, the Govs will hit the road again to face No. 4 St. Sebastian’s, who won 19-5 against Lawrence Academy. On the other side of the board, second-seeded Tabor Academy fell to seventh-seeded Thayer and the No. 3 Nobles advanced after beating No. 6 St. George’s, 14-1 . The final will take place on Sunday at Belmont Hill.

Games to watch

Friday, Reading at Winchester, 4:30 p.m. – An unbeaten Middlesex League game; the winner will be the sole leader of the Liberty Division.

Tuesday, North Andover to Billerica, 6:30 p.m. – The two Merrimack Valley Conference rivals are tied at the top of the league standings. If North Andover beats Chelmsford, that game will decide the conference championship.

Wednesday, Franklin at Medfield, 6:30 p.m. — Medfield rebounded last week after losing to Lincoln-Sudbury. Can the Warriors keep that momentum going in a playoff tune-up against the No. 5 Panthers?

Wednesday, Hingham at Lincoln-Sudbury, 6:30 p.m.. – After falling to No. 2 LS earlier this season in the Coaches Cup Final, the No. 3 Harbormen hit the road for a rematch.

Thursday, Billerica at Duxbury, 7 p.m. – Just two days after their match against North Andover, Billerica travels to Duxbury as the Dragons’ No.15 jockey for the Patriot League lead.


Ethan McDowell can be contacted at [email protected]

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