Irish goalie John Kemp added one more award to his season’s stockpile Tuesday when he was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team. Kemp was the only Notre Dame player to make the 10-man team.
The junior has had a busy month of May collecting awards. He started with the Big East Goalkeeper of the Year award, moved on to a spot on the All-America team and also won the Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. Award, which is given each year to the top goalie in the country.
Kemp, the third consecutive Notre Dame goalie to be named an All-American, led the nation in goals against average with a 6.27 this year and in save percentage with a .637. Those numbers place him second among the recent string of dominant Irish goalies. 2010 graduate Scott Rodgers finished his final season with a save percentage of .663 while leading his team to the NCAA championship game. Kemp’s older brother, Joey, finished .002 points behind John’s save percentage in his 2008 senior season.
All three were helped by what has become a trademark stingy defense in South Bend, but they also all served as cornerstone of that defense.
“It’s been something we’ve been good at for a while, and John is a huge piece of that puzzle,” Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said following a 13-7 win over Yale in the opening round of the NCAA playoffs. “We play really sound, fundamental, smart defense. We don’t make a ton of mistakes, but we make mistakes. And when we make them, they still have to beat John. That’s the good news. That’s not very easy to do.”
Kemp stepped his game up during Notre Dame’s run to the Final Four. The Irish shot-stopper averaged 11 saves per game during the regular season. He made 12 in the win over Yale and 14 more to lead the Irish past defending champion Virginia a week later. In a losing effort to Loyola in the Final Four, he had 13 stops while holding the Greyhounds to their lowest point total of the season. The Irish lost 7-5, but Kemp and the defense allowed for a comeback attempt by holding Loyola scoreless for the final 26 minutes of the game.
“He is as good as any goalie in the tournament, for sure, probably the best,” said Loyola coach Charley Toomey prior to the game. “We do talk to our guys and tell them if you have a bad shot, it's going the other direction. We haven't really been able to pinpoint where he's weak.”
Kemp's one weak spot, it turns out, was stopping fellow All-American Eric Lusby. The Loyola senior score five of his team's seven goals en route to being name the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Four of Lusby's teammates joined him on the All-Tournament team along with three from Maryland and one from Duke.
Kemp has one year of eligibility remaining to try to become the first back-to-back Kelly award winner since Mickey Jarboe of Navy won in 1999 and 2000.