You could say that playing lacrosse at Immaculata High School is something that Chandler Vanderbeek was born to do, even if he got to high school thinking he would be a football player primarily. But four years, 96 goals and 125 points later, Vanderbeek will be remembered as one of the very best players to wear the Spartans’ jersey, just like his older brother Taylor before him.
Chandler, along with his twin brother Connor and younger brother Griffin, helped lead Immaculata to the Non-Public B sectional title this season in his final year before embarking on another journey of family and lacrosse with Connor — the two will play at High Point University next year, rooming together in the dorms along the way.
But Chandler said that it wasn’t his original goal four seasons ago to turn himself into a lacrosse star.
“I was more football-minded coming into high school, and then I really fell in love with the sport of lacrosse. I enjoyed it so much, especially my freshman year, coming in with Taylor being a senior,” he said. “I knew I would put together a pretty good career, but I knew I would have to work very hard for it.”
Chandler is the Courier News Player of the Year.
With 47 goals and 59 points this season, Chandler elevated himself into Immaculata’s elite category, according to head coach Tom Mott, who’s been with the program since its inception in the late 1990s.
“The athleticism was very apparent as a 9th grader, when he and his brother came into the program,” Mott said. “You could see early on they were going to be special and Chandler would grab a long-stick and play man-down if we needed him to; we played him at attack and proved he would do whatever it took to win for us. There were games where he scored just once and we won, which speaks to that.”
Chandler credits Connor and Taylor, who is a rising senior captain at Hobart College, along with Griffin, a rising junior for Immaculata who scored a team-best 48 goals this spring, with his development as a lacrosse player.
“There’s nothing better than playing with them on the field; it’s awesome to have your brother out there with you, especially one that’s exactly like you. You’re the same and you’re just as talented and you know what they’re capable of and it’s a great experience to have played with Connor and Griffin and one year with Taylor,” he said. “They make me better, because sometimes you have that competition. Sometimes Connor will score three goals and I’ll hear, ‘Oh, he scored three, he’s your twin brother, what are you going to do now?’ ”
For all of the memories that Chandler and his brothers and teammates have accumulated over the past four seasons, he said that one will always stand out more than the rest, if only because it was relatively unexpected from the outside.
Immaculata hosted national-power St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) — team that finished the season ranked No. 15 nationally — on March 29 of this season and fell behind by four goals at the half. But Chandler netted a hat trick, Connor added a pair and Griffin had his coming out party with four goals, as the Spartans tied the score and forced overtime. In the extra period, Chandler scored the game-winning goal, eventually ending up at the bottom of a dog-pile he said he’ll never forget.
But the joy of winning always pushed Chandler to succeed, saying there “is nothing I hate more than losing.”