NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With five first-place votes, the University of Notre Dame was selected as the favorite to win the 2013 BIG EAST men’s lacrosse championship in a poll by the league’s seven head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own programs. Fighting Irish senior goalie John Kemp was tapped as the league’s preseason co-defensive player of the year.
Kemp was one of five Notre Dame players selected to the All-BIG EAST Preseason Team. Joining Kemp as a unanimous choice were his teammates Jim Marlatt (So./M) and Matt Miller (Sr./D). Sean Rogers (Sr./A) and Westy Hopkins (Jr./A) also appeared on the 15-man squad. Notre Dame’s five selections were the most of any school.
Kieran McArdle of St. John’s was selected as the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Syracuse’s Brian Megill shared the defensive honor with Kemp. Syracuse was picked to finish second followed by St. John’s, Villanova, Georgetown, Rutgers and Providence.
Kemp (Potomac, Md./Georgetown Prep) earned first team All-America honors last season as he led the nation in goals-against average (6.27) and save percentage (.637). He also received the Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top goalie. Kemp compiled a 13-3 record between the pipes last season and was named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year.
Kemp also was a 2012 Tewaaraton Award nominee and was selected to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team after he helped the Irish reach the national semifinals. The Rochester Rattlers picked Kemp with the first selection of the fourth round (25th overall) in this month’s Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Draft. He was the first goalie picked in the draft.
Marlatt (Clarksville, Md./River Hill) missed his entire freshman campaign due to injury, but had a breakout season in 2012. He notched a team-high 31 points on 19 goals and a team-best 12 assists en route to copping first team all-BIG EAST honors and an honorable mention All-America citation. Marlatt recorded three or more points in a game seven times last season, including a three-goal, two-assist performance against Yale in the first round of the NCAA Championship.
Miller (Warrenton, Va./Notre Dame Academy) started every contest last season for Notre Dame’s stellar defensive unit and received honorable mention All-America accolades along with being named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team. The Fighting Irish ranked first nationally in scoring defensive as they surrendered just 6.31 goals per game. Notre Dame also had the country’s top man-down defense (.892). Miller picked up 30 ground balls during the season. Rochester selected Miller, an Irish team captain, in the sixth round (44th overall) of the MLL Draft.
Hopkins (Newtown, Pa./LaSalle College H.S./Lawrenceville) started every game in Notre Dame’s attacking unit during the 2012 campaign and notched 18 goals and seven assists. He also picked up 25 ground balls. Hopkins has played in all 30 contests during his Fighting Irish career, tallying 36 goals. He has four career hat tricks.
Rogers (New Hyde Park, N.Y./Holy Trinity) returns to the Irish for a fifth season after he posted team-high goal totals in each of the past two campaigns. The attackman had 22 goals and eight assists last season and was a unanimous first team all-BIG EAST honoree. He has appeared in 48 career games, including 45 starts, and has registered 54 goals, 20 assists and 46 ground balls. Rogers joins Miller as one of four senior captains for this season’s Fighting Irish squad.
The seven men’s lacrosse members of the BIG EAST participate in a six-game, single round-robin format, playing each opponent once each year. The 2013 season will mark the second BIG EAST Championship, held May 2 and 4 at Goodreau Field on the campus of Villanova. The top four teams in the conference standings, determined and seeded by winning percentage in conference play at the conclusion of the regular season, will advance to compete in the postseason.
The Fighting Irish are the defending BIG EAST regular-season champion after posting a 6-0 record in league play last season. Notre Dame was 13-3 overall in 2012 and advanced to the national semifinals for the second time in three seasons before falling to Loyola, 7-5.
Notre Dame will face the U.S. National Team Saturday (10 a.m.) in the Champion Challenge at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Fighting Irish will also scrimmage Jacksonville University that day (5 p.m.). This is the third consecutive year the Irish have taken part in the Champion Challenge. Notre Dame will begin its 2013 regular-season slate Feb. 16 at Duke.