Inside Lacrosse Magazine Archives: Hofstra’s Jamie Lincoln and Jay Card join forces

Hofstra’s season didn’t finish they way it hoped after starting the season 4-1 and climbing into the national Top 5. The Pride fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 11-8 at Maryland.

But there’s plenty of reason for optimism on Long Island, thanks to the return next season of junior attackmen Jamie Lincoln and Jay Card. The two Canadians combined for more than 100 points this spring, both earning honorable mention All-American honors. They clicked from the get-go, so there should only be more success for the two in 2011.

Inside Lacrosse Magazine profiled the dynamic Canadian duo in its April 2010 magazine, which featured Cody Jamieson on the cover. The article, written by New York City resident Phil Caulfield, came together during preseason, just as the two were getting to know each other and their teammates.

This is the second in a summer series of IL Magazine Classic stories we’re dropping into NLLInsider.com. So be sure to stay tuned for more in-depth features and cutting-edge photography. Or better yet, just sign up now for a subscription so you can get this stuff on time, delivered to your mailbox on dazzling oversized pages.

Second Chance

After a rough 2009, former Denver star Jamie Lincoln joins fellow Canadian and CAA Player of the Year Jay Card at Hofstra

By Phil Caulfield

On the morning of March 31, 2009, Jay Card was killing time online before class when he saw some startling news. Jamie Lincoln, one of the University of Denver’s biggest threats and a former high school opponent in Ontario, had been dismissed from the Pioneers for a violation of team policies.

“I went right to Coach [Seth Tierney’s] office and said, ‘We have to get this kid,’” Card says.

Lincoln was a big name in the Canadian box world after winning the 2005 Minto Cup and ’07 league MVP honors with British Columbia’s Burnaby Lakers. Card had followed Lincoln’s breakout freshman season at Denver in 2008, when he scored 48 goals and was an honorable mention All-America and the GWLL Newcomer of the Year.

Most importantly, though, Card knew Hofstra could have an open spot. Tom Dooley would be graduating at the end of the 2009 season. Two Canadian box players, Lincoln a lefty to Card’s righty, could be troublesome for opposing defenses.

“Do you know him?” Tierney asked.

Card made a few calls. By May, one week after Hofstra lost to Cornell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Lincoln was watching the NCAA Quarterfinals with Card from the stands at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

“I told him, ‘If you come here next year, that will be us out there,’” Card says. One week later, Lincoln made the decision to transfer to Hofstra.
By the end of 2009, Card would earn CAA Player of the Year and honorable mention All-American honors after leading the Pride with 44 points (including seven against Delaware at the Meadowlands in Inside Lacrosse’s Big City Classic) and scoring seven-game winning goals. But his role in recruiting Lincoln to Hempstead may have been the most clutch move of his career.

“They’re scary together,” says sophomore attackman Kevin Ford. “Over the past two years, Jay’s become a little bit Americanized, but now that Lincoln’s here, you can see him begin to hit that Canadian switch again.”

Today, Card, Lincoln and three others share a house a few blocks east of Shuart Stadium. It was Card’s idea to bunk up. “Being Canadians, we stick together a bit,” he says.

On the field, Card’s and Lincoln’s chemistry is apparent. They play a bold, risky style, and Card has worked to improve his dodging and feeding to complement Lincoln’s finishing ability. During a half-field drill on the first day of January practice, Lincoln showed some signature Canadian finesse by firing a behind-the-back, cross-field pass to Card, standing on the crease 35 yards away. Card buried a goal and the sidelines erupted with excitement.

“If I see him in the middle with a guy on him but his stick is open, I’m going to throw it in there,” Card says. “Same with Jamie. Americans have been taught not to try to force things, but we’ve been brought up to pass that way.”

Midfielder Michael Hamilton calls it the “Canadian connection,” an oft-heard phrase in the Pride locker room these days. “Lincoln finds Jay anywhere on the field,” he says. “We see some of the stuff they do in practice, and we’re like ‘Oh my god.’ We’ve all been playing lacrosse for a long time and seen some cool stuff, but we still get amazed by some of the stuff they do.”

Conversations with teammates and coaches about their relationship have shades of the eerie stories one hears about twins who share the same thoughts; its almost as if they have their own language. At practice, Hofstra players are taught to call for a pass by shouting ‘One more!’ or simply yelling the ball-carrier’s name. Card and Lincoln have their own vocabulary.

“They play with a lot of inside picks and off-ball cuts,” Hamilton says. “So one will set a pick, and all of a sudden you’ll hear someone say ‘Whoot!’ or ‘Yea-Yea-Yea-Yea’ and you know one of them is open.”

Lincoln prefers his left hand, but he compensates with a smooth handle and a nasty collection of stick fakes. An absurd YouTube clip from a Langley Thunder box game titled “Jamie Lincoln fake and goal” shows Lincoln freeze an entire defense with a fake shot and then practically walk the ball past the goalie’s right shoulder.

Hofstra has four Canadians on its roster — freshman middies Michael Burke and Adrian Sorichetti are also from Ontario — and Tierney says his staff has tweaked their playbook to take advantage of the skills the indoor players bring to the field game.

“They’re a little more comfortable with a two-man game, with a picking and slipping game and we are trying to incorporate that into our offense,” Tierney says. “We’re trying to create a bit of a hybrid, a little bit more of a box style.”

Off the field, Card and Lincoln have become best friends, filling their days with classes, practice, workouts and excessive amounts of Rock Band (Card sings, Lincoln plays drums). They’re easy to spot after an experiment with hair bleach in the fall left Lincoln with an unruly quaff of Billy Idol blonde and Card with a carrot-colored mane that spills out the sides of his baseball hat. It’s standard behavior; they’re goofballs, always looking for ways to ease the tension and keep the mood light.

At practice, Card is a chatterbox, punctuating shooting drills with hoots and catcalls when someone picks a corner, and he’s quick with a playful jab after a dropped ball or missed opportunity. Lincoln is a hip-hop music savant and entertains his teammates during lifting sessions by dancing and spitting rhymes from memory along to any rap song that comes on the radio.

But it’s clear that, aside from their nationality and goofy charisma, what Card and Lincoln share most is a gratitude for the breaks they’ve received that have allowed them to play in the NCAA.

Card wasn’t recruited for most of his high school career, despite growing up near Orangeville, Ont., one of the cradles of Canadian lacrosse talent.

“Have you seen Friday Night Lights?” Card asks. “It’s like that, except with lacrosse,” he says, ticking off Orangeville legends like Merrill, Veltman, Sanderson and Coyle. Local box games can be a spectacle, so much so that the local arena is nicknamed “The Bunny Barn,” a nod to the throngs of girls that come to the games dressed to impress.

Card played Junior A box lacrosse for the Orangeville Northmen and field lacrosse for St. Andrew’s College, a boarding school. Before his senior year, he transferred to the The Hill Academy, an athletics-focused private school that Brodie Merrill’s father Peter founded. The Hill barely had a team — only 16 students were enrolled in that first year – but Merrill tutored Card in the field game, occasionally suiting up during 1-on-1s, trying to polish Card’s skills and build his confidence.

“He was pretty humble,” Merrill says. “He wasn’t really being recruited. I remember phoning a lot of coaches and having them pass on him. For me, it was trying to get him to believe he could play at that level. The skills were there, but we were trying to work and enhance those skills.”

Card’s break came late, in the fall of his senior year, after he impressed coaches at the TurkeyShoot in Ithaca, N.Y., a popular showcase for box players because its short field, 7-on-7 format mirrored the indoor game. Georgetown, Hofstra, Virginia and Bellarmine showed interest, and Card committed to Hofstra after visiting in November. After working to get his grades up in the spring, he was accepted in June, roughly two months before first semester.

Lincoln’s journey to Denver was more traditional. Former Pioneers coach Jamie Munro had recruited Geoff Snider and Matt Brown from the British Columbia box system, and Lincoln was a big-time prospect setting scoring records with the Lakers.

“We saw him play for two summers and what stood out was his ability to blow by people off the dodge,” says Jon Torpey, who coached at Denver and is now at Dartmouth. “He’s got tremendous speed. People think of him as a finisher, but he might be one of the fastest guys in DI.”
Lincoln led the Pioneers to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman in 2008 but struggled as a sophomore after the coaches moved him to midfield. As the season progressed, he felt he wasn’t getting the time he deserved, and he let the coaches know about it. The bad blood festered as Denver dropped close games to Brown, Bucknell and Drexel. By late March, he had just five goals.

“They started saying it was an attitude and a work ethic thing, which, by the end of it, I would agree,” Lincoln says. “But it’s tough to deal with being on the field all the time, being your No. 1 guy … and the next year it was the complete opposite. I was willing to make the middie thing work but I wasn’t getting reps.”

“And then I’m listening to people talk about me, you know, ‘Did Lincoln have the sophomore jitters?’” he says. “But you can’t really perform if you’re not on the field. I take pride in my ability. I’m here to perform. I want to be an All-American. I want to go to the tournament and win an NCAA championship. And to sit there and listen to people say this and that about me, it’s frustrating.”
Lincoln was dismissed from the team after coaches found out he and some teammates went to a bar after the Bellarmine game. Lincoln was over 21, but the incident violated the team’s policy regarding alcohol and road games. Countrymen Ilija Gajic and Brad Richardson, two of Lincoln’s closest friends and both current members of the NLL’s Colorado Mammoth, were also dismissed.

He was upset, but quickly began contacting DI coaches, focusing on teams with Canadians on the roster. He visited Delaware, hoping to join British Columbia-native Curtis Dickson at attack, but ultimately, Card’s charm and Tierney’s plainspoken honesty sold him on Hofstra.

“When he came on his visit, the first thing out of his mouth was ‘Coach I wasn’t perfect, I made some mistakes,’” Tierney says. “And that’s what I was looking to hear. He understands the severity of not making those mistakes again, and I promised him that from day one, we were starting off with a clean slate.”

Lincoln remains close with many of his old teammates and holds no grudges against his old coaches or the university.

“Jamie’s head is in the right place,” says Gajic. “People like him there and they respect him and I think now he can just get back to focusing on playing lacrosse.”

Now in his fourth year, Tierney has won a conference championship and made the NCAA Tournament twice, losing in the first round both times. The Pride have a goalie with big-game experience, veterans on defense and one of the country’s best shortstick d-middies in Steven DeNapoli. If Card plays consistent and Lincoln returns to his ’08 form, Hofstra has the potential to make a deep run in May.

“We’re going to be that hard-working team that no one wants to play,” Lincoln says. “We’re just going to bury people this year. That’s the plan.”

This is the second in a summer series of IL Magazine Classic stories we’re dropping into NLLInsider.com. So be sure to stay tuned for more in-depth features and cutting-edge photography. Or better yet, just sign up now for a subscription so you can get this stuff on time, delivered to your mailbox on dazzling oversized pages.

Rate This Story:

Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+5 rating, 5 votes)
Loading ... Loading ...