Most players would be content with scoring 37 goals in their freshman season, but Loyola Maryland’s Kevin Lindley isn’t like most freshmen.
He isn’t like most players, either. He is the son of a high school coach and has a drive that is beyond his years.
Just ask Loyola coach Charley Toomey.
“His mother [Lisa] is a coach at Darien High [Connecticut] and she is tough on those ladies up there,” Toomey said. “He once told me that no matter what you say on the field and in the locker room, he gets it 10 times worse from his mom. He wants to be great, but after his freshman year, I didn’t know he would decide to go home and hit the weight room and change his body.”
It’s a different Lindley in his sophomore year. He gained 15 pounds of muscle, which teammates and Greyhounds assistant coaches noticed immediately when he returned to school in the fall. Now, instead of being a left-handed finisher, he can challenge and beat some defenders while carrying the ball, or hold position while outside the crease.
But more importantly, Lindley has become better at what he does best, and that’s finishing shots. In 10 games this season, he has 41 goals and three assists. While senior attackman Pat Spencer rightfully draws all the attention on and off the field, Lindley is probably the main beneficiary of Spencer’s work, which is why he worked out at least three and as much as five times a week during the summer.
“I think he realized that he had one more year with Pat,” Toomey said of Spencer, a senior. “When you have a talent like Pat, you want to do everything possible to compete in every game, but when you really recognize how unique he is, you do everything and then extra. That’s what Kevin did.”
Spencer is having a super season with 34 goals and 43 assists. He appears to be on a mission, playing with more of an edge and taking charge of games, which he didn’t always do last year. Everything is special about Spencer, from the over-the-shoulder goals to the no-look passes to times where he just backs in a defender like a power forward in the NBA.
And as long as Lindley moves, he’ll help him move, catch and fire. Lindley fondly remembers the first time he played with Spencer.
“The first day of practice he did one of those insane things he does every single day and your mouth drops,” said Lindley, a graduate of Darien. “I said this the other day, when you see him every day, you just think, ‘No big deal, he does that every day.’ You get accustomed to it, but the first year you are around him, you are just like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ He does that every day. You just want to show the world our practice films to show everyone what he’s doing. It’s insane.”
Lindley is doing some new stuff as well this season. He is playing and shooting in tighter spaces because he is stronger. He is getting up off the ground a lot more this season because he doesn’t fear taking hits. If a defender takes a slow or poor approach, Lindley can beat him to the goal because he improved his foot speed during the summer.
Fundamentals have always been a strong part of his game. He learned them while hanging around his mom, who is a longtime coach at Darien. With Lisa, there are no shades of gray, just black and white. Kevin was treated like one of the girls.
“Yeah, she’s brutal with me,” Kevin said of his mom. “She’s not going to like that I tell you this, but in my 18 years of sports, she’s never said, ‘Good job’ to me once. She’s very blunt with me. She’s always like, ‘You did this wrong or you need to do this better.’ We have a good relationship where once she says it, I respect it and then we move on to the next thing.
“She used to bring me to all of my practices for the first 10 years of my life and that’s how I learned the game of lacrosse. I listened to her nonstop coaching our girls, so that’s how I fell in love with the game and how I learned the sport of lacrosse.”
Alex Smith, a starting short-stick defensive midfielder for the No. 3 Terps, has played in all 10 games this spring, and his father has attended all but one because of a little something called Super Bowl LIII.
Lindley is pretty much a typical Loyola recruit. Toomey doesn’t usually get the best player from high-profile schools, but he might snag the No. 2 or No. 3 prospect. With Lindley, he was recruited by the University of Massachusetts, where his mom was a four time All-American in field hockey and lacrosse, and Denver. A lot of colleges considered the 5-foot-10 Lindley too small, but Loyola was willing to take a risk after a recommendation from former Greyhounds defenseman and face-off specialist Jamie Hanford.
Lindley made one visit and was sold on Loyola. After scouting him a second time, Loyola was sold on Lindley.
“This is one of the top schools. I wanted to come to because of the size,” Lindley said. “When I went to other schools and walked around campus there was just an enormity of it. I don’t want to say I got scared of it, but I knew in my gut those schools weren’t the ones for me. When I got here, I realized how small the classes were and how small the campus was and I knew in my gut I just wanted to come here.”
“We took a chance with him and that’s the truth of it,” Toomey said. “You can look at size, speed and all the combine stuff, but if a kid wants it, to really work for it, he can develop and become an impact player. I’ve always said you can’t measure what’s inside a man’s chest.”