Landon senior midfielder Sam Lynch committed to Johns Hopkins before his sophomore season, long before he’d even established a full-time place in the loaded Bears’ starting lineup. Two years later, he’s one of No. 2 Landon’s most important cogs, and coming off a game-winning goal against No. 3 DeMatha in a season-saving Bears win Monday. He’s been on a scoring tear of late, also tallying a hat trick against No. 1 Georgetown Prep as a two-way midfielder for the 10-2 Bears. Lynch spoke to Recruiting Insider about staying motivated, the Bears’ disappointing 2013 season, and what lies ahead.
Recruiting Insider: You’ve had a particularly good offensive season on the Landon top line — what’s made the difference this season?
Sam Lynch: It’s definitely the connections I have with my teammates — particularly Sean O’Brien and Colton Rupp. They can find me wherever I am on the field. Like yesterday (against DeMatha), Sean O’Brien found me on the backside of the goal for the game-winning goal. Definitely this season I’ve gotten a lot more confidence, especially because they have me on the starting midfield line, so I’ve taken on some more responsibilities.
RI: Is it hard to stay motivated through three more high school seasons when you’ve already committed to one of the country’s top college programs?
SL: For me, it was a driving force. I was in constant contact with the coaches. I knew what level I wanted to play at and I saw that in every game that they played, even in a down year last year. Having coaches like the ones at Hopkins who are very interactive with their recruits, it helped me to stay on track and keep focused on my game and improving my game. To commit that early as a sophomore, it doesn’t hit you until your junior year when some of your other friends start committing. Then senior year, you just have the biggest smile on your face when you sign the National Letter of Intent. It’s a special year.
RI: What aspects of your game have you tried to work on knowing the kind of team you’ll be playing with at Johns Hopkins?
SL: I went to a clinic called Project 9.9 in the fall. Some of the coaches, Paul Raibl, Mark Millen, they sat down with us and they asked us what our goals were when we went to college. They told me their goals when they went to college were to start as a freshman and win a National Championship. They said if you want to succeed at a high level, you have to set high goals, and it’s okay if you don’t achieve the highest ones, but you have to make your best effort towards those. So I want to start as a freshman and win a National Championship that season and every season after that, but to get there, it starts now. It started during the summer, during workouts. Personal time, shooting, practicing my dodging, and obviously conditioning. So there’s a lot of different things.
I think a big part of this year that’s really been big is my defense. I’m a two-way middie, so I can stay on the field if we turnover the ball on offense or defense and in transition.
SL: I came to Landon my freshman year and was fortunate enough to make the team then. I saw early on that this team doesn’t put stock in where you’re committed now, it matters where your game is right now. My freshman year I was behind some really good players, and most were juniors at the time, so I was behind them again my sophomore year. Even when I was committed to Hopkins my sophomore year, I was behind them, and Coach (Rob) Bordley doesn’t put you in until you prove yourself. That goes for everyone. We’ve had two freshmen commit to U-Va., and he doesn’t care until you prove yourself on the field during practice and in the moments he puts you on the field.
RI: After an injury-riddled 2013 season in which you fell to St. Stephen’s in the IAC championship game, how important is it to have a big season this year?
SL: Most of this year’s seniors were on the team last year as juniors, and some of the current underclassmen. I think last year was definitely a disappointment: we made it all the way to the championship and lost. For some of the seniors, they didn’t get to play a lot and now they do, so this is their time to shine. I was in that final game, so I have all the drive in the world to win this season. Obviously, Jack Falk’s back injury and Andrew Mitchell’s ACL tear in football season is tough on our team — they’re two of our best players — so we’re missing a lot especially on the defensive end. But I think everyone’s doing a nice job.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 3
Combined margin in goals in Landon’s two losses this season. Landon has lost two games this season, both to teams ranked among the top 10 in North America — Ontario’s Hill Academy and Georgetown Prep.
— Here’s the story from Landon’s stunning comeback win over DeMatha Monday, capped by Lynch’s game-winning goal
— Stone Bridge right-hander J.B. Bukauskas has a rocket of a fastball and it’s carrying him up MLB draft boards
— Paul VI star Franklin Howard committed to Syracuse Monday on Comcast SportsNet
— No. 9 Chantilly held off No. 10 Churchill in a Monday afternoon boys’ lacrosse thriller
PHOTOS OF THE DAY:
Check out the scene when Stone Bridge fireballer J.B. Bukauskas takes the hill for just another regular-season start.
VIDEO OF THE DAY:
Learn more about Oakton boys’ lacrosse star Cory Harris, who bounced back from an ACL tear and is now committed to the University of Virginia.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Two of Landon’s most formidable D.C.-area challengers — No. 1 Georgetown Prep and No. 4 Gonzaga — face off Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Bethesda after Tuesday’s contest was rained out.