After he made 14 saves in Notre Dame's 12-10 win over Virginia in the NCAA quarterfinals Sunday, John Kemp received a simple message on Facebook.
"I hate you," read the note from a young fan of the Cavaliers.
As starting goalie for the Fighting Irish the last two seasons, Kemp has inspired strong emotions from frustrated opponents. This spring, the junior from Georgetown Prep tops Division I in goals against (6.22 per game) and save percentage (.636) and has led fourth-seeded Notre Dame (13-2) to the NCAA semifinals.
When the Irish face No. 1 Loyola (16-1) in Foxborough, Mass., on Saturday, Kemp will be tested by two of the best shooters in college lacrosse, Mike Sawyer (51 goals) and Eric Lusby (45 goals, 16 assists).
"We don't want to overthink our shots," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "We haven't really been able to pinpoint where [Kemp] is weak."
Solving Notre Dame goalies has vexed NCAA coaches for years. Kemp's brother Joey led the nation in save percentage (.652) as a freshman in 2005 and was an All-American the next three years. He was succeeded by Scott Rodgers, a 6-4, 255-pound prototype who followed with two All-America seasons. On Thursday, John Kemp was named first-team All-America by the USILA.
"He's the best goalie in the country," Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. "I wouldn't even get into a conversation about who is second because he's been consistently terrific all year long."
Strong goalie play and defense have been the constants as Corrigan has transformed the Irish into a perennial power. Joining Kemp on the All-America team are close defenders Kevin Randall (first team) and Matt Miller (honorable mention), a junior from Warrenton, Va.
For the 5-9, 170-pound Kemp, who like his brother wears jersey No. 1, the one thing left to accomplish is a national championship, which eluded his predecessors. Loyola seeks its first as well.
"We sometimes get credit for playing such good defense that people think John Kemp's job is easy," Corrigan said. "He's just a great goalie, and he's our best player."