Kempney looks to increase scoring role in upcoming season for Syracuse

first_img Published on February 2, 2015 at 12:10 am Contact Jon: jrmettus@syr.edu | @jmettus Facebook Twitter Google+ Kailah Kempney walked onto the field and saw 585 fans in the Carrier Dome seats around her. She lined up inside the circle at midfield to take the draw.The first game of Kempney’s career started on her own stick.“It was pretty intimidating,” Kempney said of the draw, which she lost. “I mean my first game in college ever and you’re standing in center field.”Over the last three years, Kempney, a senior attack, has been one of Syracuse’s go-to players on the draw. Her 253 career draw controls are an SU record and put her at 15th in Division I history. But this year, the Orange will be without its second- and third-best goal scorers from last year, Alyssa Murray and Katie Webster. Kempney will be picking up a bigger scoring role than she’s had in the past to help fill the void.“We’re just looking for her to play offense,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “When she gets the opportunities, put the ball in the back of the net and be a part of our system. We’re not asking her to be the leader, we’re asking her to be a dynamic scoring threat.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn her senior year at Carthage (New York) High School, Kempney scored 118 goals and controlled 193 draws, but at Syracuse her focus has been draws.She led the team with 90 draw controls her freshman year at Syracuse and was fourth with 37 goals. In her sophomore season, she was second with 56 draw controls and third in goals again with 29. Her junior year, she led the team with 107 draw controls.As her goals and shots went down over the years, her assists went up.One of Kempney’s assets on offense is that she sees seams in the defense well, assistant coach Katie Rowan said. Now, the key for Kempney is to increase her 47.1 shooting percentage and the amount of quality shots she takes.“Maybe (she’ll) do a little more than she has the last couple years by maybe not just playing inside,” Gait said, “Maybe playing a little low, a little high, changing her position and I think it can pay off for us.”When Kempney does play inside, she needs to pick up rebounds and score in one shot, Rowan said.As Kempney is worked more into the offense, attack Kayla Treanor and midfielder Erica Bodt will be worked into the draw control team, Kempney said. Freshman attack Riley Donahue will be joining the mix too, Kempney added.Donahue excels at self-draws, Kempney said, something she didn’t learn until her senior year of high school. The two have been working together on offense as well, which Kempney said has helped her.Still, Kempney isn’t going to give up her reign in the draw circle just yet. She spent all summer practicing draw controls — her favorite part of the game — with her younger sister, Braelie, and has new tricks this season after Maryland’s Taylor Cummings dominated SU in the draw circle en route to a national championship win in May.Cummings, a midfielder, finished the year with 63 goals and 128 draw controls and won the Tewaaraton Award for best player — lacrosse’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. Kempney could match Cumming’s stats this year, Rowan said.In all likelihood, when Kempney steps on the field for the season opener against Denver on Saturday, it’ll be the last time Syracuse’s season starts with her. But her final season could be unlike any of her previous three in a Syracuse jersey.“If she’s given the green light, I really think you’ll see that happen,” said Roxanne Kempney, her mother. “ … I don’t think anyone’s seen what she’s capable of.” Commentslast_img

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