C.J. LaBreck went into his junior lacrosse season knowing Thornton Academy could win its first Class A championship – especially if he improved on a good-but-not-spectacular sophomore season.

“It was just a buildup of a little more confidence, and I knew we would have a great team and I knew if we were ever in a little slump, I could be the one to pick them up,” LaBreck said.

Two instances stand out when LaBreck grabbed hold of a game and led Thornton to a win.

Early in the season, powerful Cape Elizabeth led the Trojans 8-5 in the fourth quarter. LaBreck scored four straight goals in 21/2 minutes, and Thornton won in overtime, proving it was ready to compete with the top teams in the state.

Then, in the state championship game, Falmouth led the unbeaten Trojans after one quarter, 5-2.

Twice in the first 1:01 of the second, LaBreck scored one-on-one goals against Falmouth’s two-time All-State long-stick midfielder, Riley Reed. In the fourth quarter, with Thornton still down a goal, LaBreck scored three straight goals, propelling Thornton to a 14-12 win.

LaBreck made a preseason list of goals: Be chosen for the U.S. Lacrosse Maine All-America team, earn first-team SMAA honors, raise his assist total, help Thornton win the state title and become a better teammate.

“I think I achieved all of those,” LaBreck said. “I’m just most proud that we won a state championship.”

LaBreck’s 44-goal, 34-assist season netted another honor: the 2018 Maine Sunday Telegram boys’ lacrosse Player of the Year.

“He’s a matchup problem for every team that faces him,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Ben Raymond. “We had a hard time with him.”

LaBreck was essential in Thornton’s ability to move the ball from defense to offense.

“You’re not going to keep him from getting over the midfield line, which makes it really tough for the other team to put in a good ride,” said Thornton Coach Ryan Hersey. “There were times where he’s running 70, 80 yards and having to get through at least two, three guys, and he’d still have the energy to finish the play with a goal or a good pass.”

“He’s a complete player, absolutely,” said Falmouth Coach Dave Barton.

A three-sport athlete, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound LaBreck loves working out and getting stronger.

He thought of himself as a football-first guy until this past winter.

“I loved football and I wanted to go for football (in college). I also knew I was naturally good at lacrosse and I could get better,” LaBreck said. “With lacrosse, I can easily improve my stick skills with more touches, more wall ball.”

Shortly after the championship win, LaBreck made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Monmouth University, an NCAA Division I program in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

“I loved the school and the coaches are great guys. I met some of the players and they’re awesome guys, and very supportive of each other,” LaBreck said. “That’s what made (the decision) a little easier. It felt like (Thornton) a little. Everyone helps each other.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig