GARDINER — Dalton Eldridge fell in love with the speed and freedom of lacrosse at an early age. That love has fostered a strong work ethic and leadership skills that played a big role in raising the aspirations of the Gardiner boys lacrosse program.

“He is a workhorse and wants to learn a lot about lacrosse, everyday,” Gardiner coach KC Johnson said. “He is tireless when it comes to wanting to know more and more about the game.”

Eldridge had 36 goals and 28 assists this season. He and his teammates set the bar high for future Gardiner teams, winning a second consecutive Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class B title game.

For his outstanding season, Eldridge is the Kennebec Journal Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year. Teammate Kaleb Smith was also considered.

“What we did this season was almost unthinkable,” Eldridge said. “Our usual goal is to win the KVAC. Now the goal will be to win a state championship.”

Eldridge, who was named the KVAC B player of the year, has been a part of a program that has been building momentum his entire career. Not only has the team enjoyed success, but a number of players have gone on to play at the collegiate level. The success of both the team and its graduates has motivated Gardiner’s players to learn the game.

“This is just a fast-paced game with a lot of action and freedom for players,” Eldridge, who plans to play at St. Joseph’s College next year, said. “Seeing our teammates go on to play at the next level has opened my eyes.

“When Coach (Johnson) took us to a college game to watch a couple of former Gardiner players, it showed us that we could go on and play.”

Eldridge took all that he learned during his career, which started in the fifth grade, and put together a strong senior season.

“Dalton was a two-way player. He was a point man on offense, where he and Kaleb ran the show,” Johnson said. “Dalton’s ability winning ground balls was amazing.”


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