Women's Lacrosse

All-time draw leader Kempney continues impressive run for Syracuse

Margaret Lin | Photo Editor

Kailah Kempney (right) is Syracuse's all-time leader in draw controls,and looks to pad her total against Duke on Saturday.

The first time Kailah Kempney picked up a lacrosse stick was also the time she took her first draw.

Playing on a club team in kindergarten, Kempney’s coach put her in the circle. It was her responsibility to control the draw, whether or not she was any good at it.

“Back then it was whoever could get the ball out of the circle pretty much,” Kempney said. “There was no technique.”

Since then, the Syracuse junior midfielder has developed a much stronger ability to win draws. On March 10 against then-No. 3 Maryland, Kempney notched the 182nd draw control of her career, which made her the all-time leader in Syracuse history. She’s picked up 46 this season, including 12 against Stetson on Jan. 24.

On Saturday, Kempney will have a chance to add onto her record when No. 3 Syracuse (9-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) hosts No. 8 Duke (7-3, 2-1) at the Carrier Dome at 3 p.m.

“It’s a milestone in her career that she’ll be able to carry with her,” said attack Alyssa Murray, who is also on the draw control team. “She is only a junior so she’ll only add on to it in the future to make it even more difficult for the next person to break it.”

Murray said the team has a motto, “Win the draw. Win the game.” Against Harvard on March 18, that saying proved true. Syracuse held a 15-8 advantage in the circle, and came away with a 17-4 blowout win over the Crimson.

On the season, the Orange has a 144-111 lead over its opponents, thanks in most part to the play of Kempney.

“I feel like with the draw control score between each team and the actual score,” Kempney said. “It’s usually the same. Give or take one or two goals.

“You can’t score without the ball, it’s like without it you’re screwed.”

Kempney said she became good at getting self draws in high school because there were four players around the circle, not just two like there are in college. Her coach encouraged her to snatch the ball out of the air.

“We had to be way better at controlling it,” Kempney said. “It’s like now we have more room on the circle than we used to so it’s like prepared us for college having four people on the circle.”

Kempney emphasized that her role isn’t just to get the draw controls herself, but to captain the team of players around the circle about where to be and how to prepare for the ball.

With Bridget Daley injured, Murray has taken on a larger role on the draw team and said she has needed a lot of Kempney’s assistance.

“Moving players around, getting them to where she wants to be and I think that’s something we can always work on,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “She works tirelessly on the draw along with our other draw people and I think it’s paid off for her.”

Kempney didn’t hide her pride in breaking the program record for draw controls. She came to Syracuse with the goal to break it, and did so in just two and a half seasons.

And now as the record continues to mount with each passing game, she has the players around her to thank.

“They all know it’s a team effort too,” Kempney said. “We have a draw team, it’s not just a draw person. So yeah, everyone was excited. Whenever anyone does anything great, we’re all there to support each other.”

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