FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Two Huntingdon Hawks earned individual honors and a total of five players earned All-Conference recognition with the release of the inaugural USA South Athletic Conference men's lacrosse awards on Wednesday.
Huntingdon junior Sam Hitt was named the USA South's first Player of the Year and Andrew Carey took home the first Coach of the Year honor for men's lacrosse.
Hitt was also named first-team All-Conference as a faceoff specialist. He is joined on the first team by Huntingdon midfielders Kendrick Ballard and Adrian Harper. Bryce Coates earned second-team recognition at the attack position and Matt Murphy was a second-team selection at goalie.
"This is an honor for all of us," Carey said. "It's nice to see these guys recognized by the coaches in the conference and it says a lot about how hard each of them has worked. Each of them has played an important role in the success we've had this season."
Hitt has been dominant on faceoffs this season, winning 218-of-311 faceoffs. He leads Division III in faceoffs wins and his 70.1 faceoff winning percentage ranks eighth in Division III. Among Division III players who have taken at least 300 faceoff attempts this season, Hitt ranks first in winning percentage.
Hitt, a native of Finksburg, Md., leads the USA South and is fourth in Division III with 122 ground balls this season. Although he has taken just six shots on goal this season, Hitt has scored four goals. He also has four assists.
"We're proud of Sam and all he has accomplished this season. He is very deserving of this recognition," Carey said. "Sam has really put his ego aside this season and applied what his coaches have taught him. He has been committed to setting the tone with his performance at the faceoff X. When you're winning 70 percent of your faceoffs, that's impressive. He is crucial in allowing us to play our style on both offense and defense."
Ballard, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., leads the Hawks with 32 goals this season. Among USA South teams not reclassifying from Division II and eligible for All-Conference, Ballard ranked third in the conference in goals scored. He also had eight assists and is credited with six game-winning goals this season, including the deciding goal in two overtime wins and the winning goal in the final minute of a 7-6 victory against Methodist.
Harper, a junior from Charlotte, N.C., is Huntingdon's third-leading goal scorer with 22 and is third on the team with 10 caused turnovers. He also has seven assists and 46 ground balls. Harper has recorded a goal or an assist in 13 of the Hawks' 16 games and has had multiple goals or assists in eight games.
Coates, a freshman from San Diego, is the Hawks' second-leading goal scorer with 26 goals this season. He also has seven assists, 24 ground balls and eight caused turnovers. Coates scored three game-winning goals this season, including the deciding goal in a 5-4 double overtime win against Greensboro.
Murphy, a junior from McDonough, Ga., leads the USA South with a 57.3 save percentage and a 6.68 goals against average in a little more than 889 minutes played this season. He has 133 saves. Among goalies that have played at least 700 minutes this season, Murphy ranks first in Division III in goals against average and third in save percentage.
Carey, who has 60 wins in seven seasons as Huntingdon's head coach, has guided the Hawks to a 14-2 overall record this season and a 6-0 record in the USA South. The 14 wins this season are the most in program history. The Hawks' previous best was 10 wins in 2014 and 10 wins last season.
"Being named Coach of the Year is not just about me. It's a reflection of the hard work put in by so many people in this program and on campus," Carey said. "Credit should go to my assistant coaches, Brandon Sewell and Jacob Acevedo, our support staff of (Director of Strength and Conditioning) Charlie Goodyear and (Athletic Trainer) Kyle Huff and most importantly to our players. These men have set high goals since August and are constantly working hard to achieve them."
Huntingdon sophomore Zach Barnhill was named to the All-Sportsmanship team.
William Peace freshman Austin Abourjilie was named USA South Rookie of the Year.
The complete All-Conference awards are listed below.
USA South All-Conference Men's Lacrosse Awards
Player of the Year: Sam Hitt, Huntingdon
Rookie of the Year: Austin Abourjilie, William Peace
Coach of the Year: Andrew Carey, Huntingdon
Austin Abourjilie, William Peace
Tyler Fullem, Ferrum
Matt Layden, Methodist
Kendrick Ballard, Huntingdon
Adrian Harper, Huntingdon
Jeremy Kohn, Piedmont
Josh Brown, Methodist
Brendon Schrantz, Ferrum
Collin Wenger, Piedmont
Zach Czulada, Piedmont
Jake Hanak, Piedmont
Sam Hitt, Huntingdon
Bryce Coates, Huntingdon
Ryan Cole, Greensboro
Brady Jenks, Piedmont
Anthony Florian, William Peace
Victor Mehrtens, Greensboro
Chase Tallon, Ferrum
Griffin Ballard, Greensboro
Aiden Karmazinski, Greensboro
Justin Matthews, Greensboro
Matt Murphy, Huntingdon
Tommy Barrett, Greensboro
Patrick Bell, Greensboro
Johnny Rose, Averett
Jackson McKaig, Brevard
Jack Sheehan, Ferrum
Kyle Dahlin, Greensboro
Zach Barnhill, Huntingdon
Jake Prather, Methodist
Ryan Cummings, Pfeiffer
Sean Kennell, Piedmont
Tanner Brown, William Peace