MIDDLETOWN—It doesn’t take much to light a fire under Wesleyan star Harry Stanton.

After his sophomore year in 2016 the New Canaan grad was awarded Division III All-American Honorable Mention from USILA/Nike. Preseason 2017, the junior was given the same honor.

In his eyes, it wasn’t enough.

“Getting honorable mention was cool, but on a personal level I thought I got snubbed,” Stanton said. “I don’t think like that too much, I let my play do the talking, so what really stuck with me was when the preseason All-American came out and I got Honorable Mention and they thought that’s what I was going to get again. I was like, that’s not going to happen.”

So, after Wesleyan dropped its first contest of the year, and Stanton wasn’t at his best, the blogs and lacrosse forums provided even more motivation.

“It’s fun following these forums and these blogs,” Stanton said. “I don’t look too much into it, but the takeaway from the first game of the season was Stanton didn’t do enough for his team and suddenly we rattled off 20 wins in a row.”

Wesleyan didn’t drop another contest until its final game. The 20-game win streak was the best in the country at not just Division III, but any level, in college.

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Harry Stanton file

2014 New Canaan grad…NESCAC Rookie of the year in 2015…USILA/Nike All-Honorable Mention 2016…All-NESCAC 2017…NESCAC Player of the Year 2017…All-American 2017…86 goals in 2017 most in Wesleyan history…115 points in 2017…Third all-time in points at Wesleyan…Two-year captain…helped lead Cardinals to 20-straight wins and No. 4 in the country…

Stanton set the single-season program record with 86 goals in 2017, and finished with 115 points. He was fifth in DIII in goals per game with 3.91 and led the NESCAC in points and goals.

The rising senior was named first-team All-NESCAC, the New England Player of the Year and most importantly, first-team All-American.

The Cardinals set a program record with 20 wins and boasted seven All-American’s, finishing as New England champions and No. 4 in the country.

Even before all those accomplishments were added to his rap sheet, coach John Raba had no hesitation about naming Stanton a captain in his junior year—only the third junior to receive such duties in program history.

“It was a pretty unanimous decision in that regard,” Raba said. “And that really led to our team success. His leadership as a junior and his individual success, he got a lot of confidence from that and really wanted to turn it up a notch this year—and he did that.”

From the very beginning, Raba could see that Stanton was a special player.

“The day he stepped foot on campus he had some great qualities, he was able to make an immediate impact,” Raba said. “He was the named NESCAC Rookie of the Year, so he really got a lot of respect from our players in the way he plays. He has tremendous heart in everything he does, he’s got a determination I’ve never really seen before in 21 years.

“I haven’t had a player who plays as hard as Harry plays, and I think that stuck out.”

That determination is why, no matter the moment, it’s Stanton that wants the ball on his stick.

“If things aren’t going well, he’s not going to back down,” Raba said. “He’s just going to come at you harder and it’s a great quality to have. He’s not scared to take the big shot, he’s won a lot of games for us and made some huge plays because of his determination; it’s hard to coach that and it’s always been there.”

In his years at New Canaan, Stanton had plenty of success, and credits the program with building the foundation he’s spring-boarded into national notoriety.

It’s why in the offseason, he offers private lessons to kids looking to improve their game in the town.

“We won back to back FCIAC championships in 2012 and 2013 and then we ran into an unbelievable 23-0 Darien team,” Stanton said. “But no regrets on that, just being part of that rivalry was pretty special. It’s been pretty cool to see New Canaan grow and get that kind of recognition around the nation…(the coaches) texted us and said they don’t get to that status without us, which was pretty cool.

“It’s a pretty special alumni network and it’s a pretty special place to grow up and play lacrosse.”

The best part of Stanton’s abilities, in the eyes of Raba, is that he’s not done.

Heading into his senior year, and second year as a captain, the coach set a pretty high ceiling for his star.

“We’ve got some great pieces around him and he’ll have to convince the younger guys to step up into key roles, and I think his leadership will allow that to happen,” Raba said. “He’ll take some guys under his wing and know he doesn’t have to do everything

“He took a lot of pride in his assists and wanted to be a more complete player, which he did. If he can do that again, I think he could be the National Player of the Year without a doubt.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP