ROCKLAND — Usually when practice concludes at Bicentennial Field, it is common for lacrosse players to sprint to their cars along Reed Street and take off for the evening.
But Lucas Leander takes a ride around the corner to Rockland High, where he will usually train well into the night.
The junior’s work ethic is one of the primary reasons he is having a historic campaign for the Bulldogs, already with 56 goals and 35 assists this year.
Much like his brother Nick, Leander drifted to the sport of lacrosse when he was young and enjoyed success. The two have drastically contrasting playing styles. His older sibling was mostly a defenseman who played at Mass Maritime. Lucas tended to focus on scoring, always with a knack for finding the cage.
“My skill set is more pointed towards (offense),” Leander said. “I’m not the biggest guy on the field, more of a speedy type of guy. Attack and middie is really where I play.”
Leander was called up to the varsity when he was in eighth grade, a very rare instance for a public school system.
Yet, it was like he knew the playbook inside and out, and the then-youngster didn’t just blend in with his peers – he dominated. That year, Leander buried 38 goals and added 48 assists.
“It was very unique,” said Rockland lacrosse coach Dave Taylor. “We’ve had some eighth-graders come up to fill JV spots, but not at a varsity level. He had tremendous stick skills, and he had very good lax I.Q., even as an eighth-grader.”
The pandemic wiped away his freshman season, and shortened his sophomore campaign. Despite an abbreviated schedule last year, Leander still sniped 36 goals and dished out 25 helpers.
Leander has received looks from Mass Maritime and Wheaton College for lacrosse. He is a three-sport athlete, and a recent Super Bowl champion with Rockland’s football program. The Bulldogs defeated archrival Abington (a 23-13 victory) for the Div. 6 title at Gillette Stadium this past December, with Leander corralling an 8-yard touchdown reception in the effort.
At this time, Leander is considering continuing life on the gridiron at the next level, having already spoken with Bentley University, Bowdoin College, Stonehill College, Tufts University, UNH, Williams College and more.
“Honestly, it was awesome winning a Super Bowl,” Leander said. “It doesn’t get better than that. But it’s the same focus every single season. You just want to win games.”
Leander suffered a partially torn ligament in his ankle this past winter during basketball season. While the road back was long and arduous, the junior was healthy and ready to go for the spring, thanks in large part to a rigorous training regimen. That might even be putting it lightly.
During the first game of the season, Leander finished with a stunning 17-point performance (12 goals, five assists) in a victory over Middleboro.
Leander remains committed to his ultimate goal of leading the Bulldogs on their longest playoff run in the program’s nine-year history. The team captain also is aiming to shatter the school record for total points held by former Rockland standout Matty O’Brien (326 points).
“People are looking at him for lacrosse at the next level as well,” said Taylor. “I think his concentration is football, but like I said, he is a tough kid. He’s smart, a member of the National Honor Society. He’s a great all-around kid.”
Two legendary coaches, two milestones
In a region known for high school lacrosse, two of its primary coaching pillars have accomplished historic feats this season.
Hingham boys coach John Todd captured the 500th victory of his career April 30 with a 14-8 win over Pinkerton Academy (NH). Todd has coached at Hingham since 1987, and helmed the varsity program since 1989. He has the most coaching wins in state history, with three state titles.
“For us it’s just another day at the office,” Todd said. “The wins really go along with the type of program that we have, and the type of kids we have, and how focused they are… the wins are just a byproduct of how hard the kids work and are prepared, and the level that we play at.”
Concord-Carlisle boys coach Tom Dalicandro made history April 14, when the Patriots topped Waltham, 14-3. The victory gave the longtime game manager his 300th career win. Dalicandro has coached with the Patriots since 1993. He took over as the varsity coach in 2001, and has captured two state championships.
“It feels good just to be lucky enough to be in the same place with so many great assistant coaches and my athletic directors,” said Dalicandro. “So many awesome kids that I’ve taught in gym class, that I’ve had both in football and lacrosse. Really, that’s been the most rewarding part of this 300th win, because with those wins, there were a lot of losses. But I’ve been connected to Concord-Carlisle for 30 years. It makes you bring back all those memories.”