February 24, 2011

NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Notebook: Kemp Embraces Legacy of Notre Dame Goalies

by Gary Lambrecht | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Lambrecht Archive

Notre Dame goalie John Kemp received a two-paragraph critique via text from his brother and former Irish great Joey Kemp during his national TV game Saturday against Duke -- after the first quarter. Kemp finished with 10 saves in the Irish's 12-7, season-opening win.

Notre Dame sophomore goalie John Kemp knows he has an extremely tough act to follow. After spending a year backing up the remarkable Scott Rodgers, who nearly carried the Fighting Irish to their first NCAA Division I men's lacrosse title and was named most outstanding player of the 2010 NCAA championship, Kemp fully understands the standard that has been set in South Bend.

Following the charismatic, 6-foot-4, 260-pound Rodgers is only part of the challenge for the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Kemp. He also is charged with holding up the legacy his older brother left behind at Notre Dame. Before Rodgers, there was the great Joey Kemp, the three-time All-American who graduated in 2008 after allowing just 7.20 goals per game for his career with a superb, .623 save percentage.

The John Kemp era launched successfully last Saturday. His 10 saves helped the Irish pull away from Duke in a season-opening, 12-7 victory. And John heard plenty about his performance from Joey, who works in Washington, D.C., as a bonds trader.

"I talk to my brother a lot," John said. "[Joey] sent me an e-mail on Saturday, after the first quarter. It was two paragraphs long. It was good and bad, but he talked about everything I was doing wrong -- dropping my stick, getting out of position, not moving my feet right. Two paragraphs after the first quarter."

Such is life when you're from a household of competitors, and goalies. John's three sisters, Julie, Erin and Liz, were swimmers for Miami (Fla.), Towson and Florida, respectively. His other older brother, C.J., was a three-year starting goalie at Fairfield.

"John has got the greatest support system in the world. He hears plenty of feedback before he hears anything from me," Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. "John and Joey are eerily similar in some of their mannerisms. We've been very fortunate at the [goalie] position."

The strong lineage in the cage at Notre Dame goes back to Kirk Howell, who capped off a great collegiate career (.591, 8.03 GAA) by leading the Irish to their first-ever NCAA tournament final four in 2001. And the cage now belongs to the last of the Kemps, each of whom graduated from Georgetown Prep.

John recalled first picking up a goalie stick in the first grade. By then, his older brothers already were hooked on patrolling the net.

"I don't even think I'm capable of playing another position. Too slow," said John, who won the Tim Wynne Award as Maryland's top high school goalie. "But at least I found my niche."

Schiavone lets Loyola play 'make-it-take-it'

Loyola University senior midfielder John Schiavone, who majors in information systems while maintaining his status as one of the game's top faceoff men, typically makes it to the tail end of practice Tuesdays and Thursdays, if he makes it all. Schiavone takes a web applications class that directly conflicts with his practice schedule.

Not that the Greyhounds are complaining about any special treatment being afforded their extraordinary specialist.

Schiavone has never recorded a save in his collegiate career, but he showed his value by essentially saving Loyola in its season-opening, come-from-behind, 9-8 win over Navy.

Schiavone won eight of nine second-half draws, as the Greyhounds erased a 7-2 deficit. Loyola outshot the Midshipmen, 16-1, in the third quarter, and won the ground ball battle in the second half by a stunning, 21-3 margin, as the Greyhounds held the ball for nearly 25 minutes.

Short-stick midfielder Josh Hawkins (seven ground balls) was a huge spark on the faceoff wing. But the comeback simply would not have happened without Schiavone, who lifted the Greyhounds with a huge performance in a first-round playoff loss to Cornell last year. Loyola trailed the Big Red at halftime, 9-2, before falling in triple overtime.

"When you are playing make-it-take-it like we were against Navy, it just gives your entire team such an emotional boost," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said.

Schiavone is in his third season as Loyola's primary faceoff man. He entered the season with a sparkling, .595 winning percentage.

"I'm pretty hard on myself. My glass is always half-empty," Schiavone said. "Anything under 65 percent kind of bothers me."

Army-Syracuse rematch on tap at Dome

Expect a high-pitched atmosphere at the Carrier Dome on Sunday, when Army returns for its first visit following last year's shocking, first-round, NCAA tournament upset at second-seeded Syracuse. That marked just the second playoff loss for the Orange ever at the Dome.

The Black Knights (1-1) better get their early-season shooting woes ironed out by Sunday. Army is averaging a modest, 8.5 goals on less-than-modest, 24.6 percent shooting. Jeremy Boltus and Garrett Thul, Army's 1-2 punch on offense, are shooting a combined 7-for-38 (18.4 percent).

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