A strong, dependable kicking leg and a football background made Edina soccer standout Matt Lindberg a target for football coach Derrin Lamker.

"There were lots of phone calls," Lindberg said of Lamker's offers to moonlight as a placekicker. "But I didn't want anyone to question my loyalty or my leadership."

Soccer already had won out when Lindberg made varsity as a freshman and there was no looking back. Hornets soccer coach Dave Jenson understood Lamker's efforts, though.

"Matt just gets sports," Jenson said. "He's always the first or second chosen whenever he and his friends are playing."

Sticking with soccer provided the best showcase for Lindberg's great foot speed and touch on the ball. He tallied 14 goals and 10 assists as a forward this fall and earned Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year honors.

"Even as an eighth-grader, you just knew," Jenson said. "He always involves people when he plays. I have not seen a day where he's off or a competitive moment where he was off."

Well, there was that one time early last season when Lindberg's attempts at tying the game at Prior Lake kept ending up in the goalkeeper's chest. That evening Lindberg put in some extra work at Pamela Park near his home. Never mind that the Hornets still won the game, which started at 8 p.m. Lindberg shouldered a ball of soccer balls, drove to the park and went to work. No lights. No teammates. Just 45 minutes in the dark, perfecting a shot to curl around the goalkeeper.

Lindberg's work under the lights this season drew raves from coaches at Blake, Minneapolis Washburn and Wayzata. They lauded his relentless motor and playmaking abilities — the skills, the touch and the speed. Lindberg, who earned Class 2A Mr. Soccer honors from the state coaches association, led Edina to the No. 1 seed in Section 2, though the Hornets were upset in a shootout loss against No. 5 seed Chanhassen.

"No regrets," said Lindberg, who will play at Drake next season. "Chanhassen fought hard, and we missed some chances."