GROTON — Like his head coach Rick Arena, Groton-Dunstable senior standout midfielder Ryan Heinser was not a lifelong lacrosse player.

Heinser is a letter winner in football as well, but lacrosse soon became his No. 1.

Heinser first picked up a lacrosse stick as a freshman, and he never put it down.

It just seemed like a natural fit for the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Groton native.

Heinser was on a routine college visit to Benedictine College, located in Atchinson,Kan., one-hour south of Kansas City. It was then when an opportunity to continue his playing career at the next level emerged.

“I kind of just applied to the college and went out there to look at it,” Heinser said of the college. “I fell in love with the school. It was during the admissions interview that the interviewer informed me that the school was starting a program after I had mentioned that I played lacrosse.”

Heinser is the first lacrosse signee in Benedictine College history, as the school just recently added it as a varsity sport.

“It’s an awesome feeling being the first recruit in school history,” Heinser said. “It’s an amazing opportunity academically and athletically.

“They didn’t even have the coach, yet, and the admission officer told me that he would give him my name. The coach got in contact with me, and I sent him some film.”

The Benedictine College Ravens compete in the Heart of America Conference, which is sanctioned by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Heinser owned a 60-percent faceoff win percentage for the Crusaders in 2015.

“Ryan has a lot of good years of lacrosse ahead of him,” Arena said. “Heinser is a hard worker and a tough kid. He is going to improve more than most of the other guys since he is so new to the sport. He’s at a good place in his game right now, but he still has a lot to learn.”

Arena is not surprised that Heinser is moving onto the next level to continue his lacrosse career. “Ryan had a list of some great schools, and we discussed his options,” the coach said. “He is a great kid with a good head on his shoulders. We were talking about what would be the best fit for him academically.

“It is good to see guys being drawn to schools for the right reasons. The fact that he gets to play lacrosse at a school he loves is just an added bonus.”

In an release by the Benedictine College Athletic Department website, men’s lacrosse head coach Ben Coughlin said:

“"Getting Ryan was a big win not just for the lacrosse team, but for the school and the community," said Coach Coughlin. "He is an outstanding young man with great character and values. He is exactly the type of individual we want associated with Benedictine.

Heinser will not be alone when he packs up the car and heads out to the countryside of Kansas, he has cousins and family friends, who are also students at Benedictine.

“It was a pretty exciting experience when I made my two official visits to campus,” Heinser said. “I actually have not had a chance to meet coach Coughlin face-to-face, yet. The coaches here at Groton-Dunstable are great. They’ve done so much to help me and my teammates develop.”