Sports

Athlete of the week: Larken Kemp ’17 anchors men’s lacrosse’s stubborn defense

Sophomore leads nation in caused turnovers per game, helps Bruno to win over Harvard

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, March 20, 2015

Larken Kemp ’17 and Brown’s defense have been crucial to the Bears’ success so far, though Dylan Molloy ’17 and Bruno’s offense have gotten all of the attention. The sophomore was named the Ivy Co-Player of the Week and the USILA National Defensive Player of the Week.

The men’s lacrosse team started the season red-hot, rattling off a five-game winning streak which was capped off by a stellar 14-9 victory over then-No. 10 Harvard. The Ivy League’s second-ranked defense has been anchored by Larken Kemp ’17, who turned in a stellar performance against the Crimson.

Kemp leads the nation in caused turnovers per game at a solid 3.60. He tallied a school-record eight caused turnovers in addition to four ground balls and a goal in the fourth to help wrap up the win over Harvard. As a result of his fantastic play, he was recognized as Ivy League Co-Player of the Week and as the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association National Defensive Player of the Week.

For his record-breaking performance that has already earned him several accolades, Kemp has also been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: What made you start playing lacrosse and how long have you played?

Kemp: Growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut, it’s a lacrosse hotbed. It’s the normal — everyone’s doing it. My dad got me into it. I was probably four or five. I was playing in the town leagues and evolving from there. I was a big hockey player growing up, so I actually didn’t play too much lacrosse until later in high school and college.

How did the team feel after getting that first Ivy win against Harvard?

It was huge. Any time you beat Harvard, it’s an emotional high, regardless of if you’re undefeated or 0-4 heading into the game. We always say that we play six games that really matter: the league games. It’s why you come to Brown, for a chance to knock off a team like a top-10 Harvard team. It was a culmination of a lot of hard work and earning it.

What was the team’s reaction to the huge crowd at the game?

The crowd was unbelievable. You know, it might not have been the biggest crowd in terms of actual attendance, but it was so great to see our friends and family and people who care about Brown and Brown lacrosse come out in pretty horrible weather. It was great that they were loud and got us going. We really fed off that energy. It’s little things like that that can turn an 8-7 ballgame to a 10-7 one.

What does it mean to you to be named Ivy League Co-Player of the Week?

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean something. At the same time, especially for a defensive player, it’s a testament to what the six of us — seven including goaltender Jack Kelly ’16 — were able to do on a possession-by-possession basis. Causing turnovers and picking up ground balls has a lot less to do with one player. The five players behind you trust you and put you in a position to be able to take risks and try to make a play.

Moving forward, what are the team’s goals for the rest of the year?

Expectations are high, and they should be. You don’t come to Brown to be mediocre — you want to try to win Ivy League championships and win every game you play. Our goals haven’t changed. We compete every day, get better, find out more about ourselves. And hopefully, at the end of the day, the wins will take care of themselves and we’ll find ourselves competing for an Ivy League — and NCAA — playoff berth.

Do you have any superstitions or pregame rituals?

Yeah, I listen to the same music, tie my left cleat before my right, tape my stick butt end up first and throw off the same wall before games.

If you could play any other sport, what would it be?

Definitely hockey. I love the sport, and I love the pace. It’s very comparable to lacrosse: It’s the fastest game on two feet versus the fastest game on ice. On top of that, I just love the guys. I’m friends with a bunch of the Brown hockey guys.

— This interview has been edited for clarity and length