Attackman Kevin Lindley has lofty expectations for the Loyola men’s lacrosse team.

And why not?

Lindley is among 10 graduate students on the roster who are battle-tested and have developed solid chemistry during their time at the Charles Street campus. (Because COVID-19 wiped out much of the 2020 season, players were given an extra year of eligibility.) Lindley, a co-captain, leads a talented attack that should have little trouble scoring goals.

“Both sides of the ball have depth and experience,” Lindley said. “We had a great fall growing chemistry and continue to do so now.”

Loyola was ranked eighth in the Inside Lacrosse national preseason poll and seventh in USA Lacrosse Magazine. Virginia was ranked No. 1 in both polls.

The Cavaliers and Greyhounds do not meet in the regular season, but Loyola opened the season against Maryland Feb. 12 and will face Duke March 12. The Terps and Blue Devils both opened the season as top-five teams.

The Greyhounds are also picked to win the Patriot League. They’ll kick off league play against Lafayette March 5.

Lindley is Loyola’s all-time leader in goals scored with 158 entering the 2022 season.

“I’m proud, but I don’t think about it, if I am honest,” Lindley said of being the all-time goals leader. “For me, it is one of those individual accomplishments that I’ll cherish later in life. Right now, I’m focused on winning games and doing something special with this year’s team.”

Lindley was a USILA All-America Honorable Mention pick and earned first-team All-Patriot League recognition after leading the Greyhounds and the Patriot League with 42 goals in 2021. He also had a career-high eight assists for 50 total points.

Aidan Olmstead is another graduate student on the attack. Olmstead had career highs in goals (31) and assists (29) last season. Olmstead plays a key role in feeding Lindley and generally sets the tone for the attack.

“Kevin and I have a very special chemistry,” Olmstead said. “It is something that started Day 1 of our freshman year. Being able to play side-by-side together is something that has contributed to a [comfort level] on and off the field that is truly amazing.”

Graduate goalie Sam Shafer will lead a defense that is expected to complement a high-powered attack. He finished the 2021 season with some exceptional performances that helped lead the Greyhounds to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Shafer had 13 saves in a win against Georgetown in Loyola’s regular-season finale. He made nine saves against Navy in the Patriot League quarterfinals and then another 12 against Army in the semifinal. Shafer also finished with 16 saves against Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“I think being able to come back for another year with all our close defense returning as well as most of our rope unit returning is very exciting,” Shafer said. “We are all familiar with each other and what we do on the field which gives us an advantage.”

Shafer is following a long line of exceptional goalies to play at Loyola. Greyhound goalies have been named to USILA All-America teams 16 times throughout program history. Current head coach and former goalie Charley Toomey was honored in 1989 and 1990.

“Having a coach who is a former goalie has been very helpful,” Shafer said. “He is very hard on us and pushes us to be the best we can be. Having a head coach that has played the position and understands what saves you should or shouldn’t make and understands the mental side of the game also gives us a leg up.”

In addition to Lindley, Olmstead, and Shafer, the Greyhounds have fifth-year starters at the faceoff X (Bailey Savio) and close defense (Matt Hughes and Kyle LeBlanc).

Long-stick midfielder Ryan McNulty is in his sixth year because of a medical redshirt in 2017 and COVID-19 wiping out most of the 2020 season. McNulty was a force last season, with 19 caused turnovers and 46 ground balls. He also contributed to the attack, scoring four goals with six assists. He was named a second-team All-American by SILA, Inside Lacrosse and USA Lacrosse Magazine.

The Greyhounds have talent and depth, and they’re going to create matchup problems for each opponent. They’re aiming to make a run all the way to Memorial Day weekend in East Hartford, Conn., where the NCAA will crown a champion.

Loyola had six players on the preseason All-Patriot League team — Lindley, Olmstead, McNulty, midfielder Evan James, close defenseman Cam Wyers and short-stick defensive midfielder Payton Rezanka.

“We are a very close-knit team,” Lindley said, “and we all expect to do great things this year.”

Photo Credits: Larry French

Issue 273: February/March 2022

Originally published Feb. 16, 2022

Todd Karpovich

See all posts by Todd Karpovich. Follow Todd Karpovich on Twitter at @toddkarpovich