SAINT LEO, FLA. – Matt Shand goes to a U.S. university more than 2,000 kilometres away from home, yet he couldn’t feel more Canadian.
In his first year at Saint Leo’s University, Shand joins several of his countrymen on the Lions’ lacrosse team.
The impressive freshman from Whitby, Ont., has high hopes for himself, and his new teammates in the upcoming 2017 season. Despite his Canadian passport, the midfielder had no trouble playing Division II lacrosse in Florida.
“The amount of Canadians that we have, it felt more like home,” said Shand. “Having Jake Gilmour and Zach Lysyk being here from my hometown, they were huge role models for me. They’ve been so helpful when it comes to school, social life and of course lacrosse.”
The six-foot-two midfielder brings experience and a well-coached mind to the Lions. His high school team at The Hill Academy was ranked No. 1 in North America and was coached by Toronto Rock player Brodie Merrill, one of the most decorated lacrosse players in the world.
“I was so happy I was able to experience that,” he said, “He is an unbelievable coach and has so much knowledge to share. He is such a great leader too, which made it easy for us to learn from him.”
Shand has two goals and five assists through five games for the Lions. Head coach Brad Jorgensen raves about his ability on the field.
“Matt is a great kid,” said Jorgensen. “In terms of lacrosse he’s a ‘get to the cylinder, attack the net guy.’ Which was something we really needed. A guy that can draw double teams, a guy you can think about putting a long stick on. That was something we were lacking a little bit in our midfield.
Despite being only a freshman, Jorgensen is excited about the future of the 18-year-old in the upcoming years.
“He’s got great potential,” said Jorgensen. “I think physically we’ve gotta mature him a little bit, but that’ll come once he gets a bit older and spends more time with the strength and conditioning staff. He’s a tough kid. So being a little bit more of slight build doesn’t really hurt him. But he’s really going to be able to shove some guys around once we get a little more weight on him.”