By Chuck Tidmore
Sports Information Assistant
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Huntingdon goalie Matt Murphy was named Southeast Independent Lacrosse Championship Defensive Player of the Year while three other members of the Huntingdon men's lacrosse team were honored on Wednesday.
In addition to Defensive Player of the Year, Murphy was named to the All-Conference team alongside senior defenseman Josh Clayton and junior midfielder Kendrick Ballard. Sophomore Sam Hitt earned All-Conference honors as a faceoff specialist.
The SEILC is comprised of the five USA South Athletic Conference members (Huntingdon College, Ferrum College, Greensboro College, Piedmont College and Methodist University) who play men's lacrosse.
The Hawks will host the 2017 SEILC Tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Samford Stadium. No. 1 seeded Methodist (13-3, 4-0 SEILC) will play No. 4 Piedmont (5-9, 1-3 SEILC) at 1 p.m. before No. 2 Huntingdon (10-7, 3-1 SEILC) and No. 3 Ferrum (5-11, 2-2 SEILC) faceoff at 4 p.m. The championship game will be played on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Murphy enters Saturday's semifinal matchup with 173 saves on the season while allowing 134 goals. In 17 starts this season, the sophomore has recorded 905 minutes in the cage. Murphy has recorded double-digit saves in 10 games and recorded a career-high 20 saves in a 9-8 overtime win against Capital.
Ballard elevated his play in 2017 and has recorded 37 points (34 goals and 3 assists) while collecting 21 ground balls. Ballard has scored double-digit goals in 10 games and has six games with three or more goals. Against Capital, Ballard scored with 26 seconds left to tie the game 8-8 before scoring the game winner in overtime. A week later, Ballard would go on to score a game-winning goal against Randolph with 27 seconds left.
Hitt had another record-setting season for the Hawks. The sophomore has won 216 faceoffs this season, breaking his record of 211 set last season. In addition to his performance at the faceoff x, hit has scooped up 116 ground balls and has scored six goals and three assists. Hitt opened this season with a 22-of-26 performance against Tennessee Wesleyan, ranking third for faceoff wins in program history. Against Millsaps, Hitt went 17-for-19, giving him a 89.5 faceoff percentage.
Clayton makes a second straight appearance on the All-Conference team and continued to be a vital part of the Hawks' defense. Clayton has appeared in 12 games this season while missing five due to injury. For the season, Clayton has caused 11 turnovers while collecting 18 ground balls. Clayton has guided a Hawks' defense that has allowed an average of nine goals per game.
Along with Murphy, Jake Smerka from Methodist was named Offensive Player of the Year and Davis Miller from Greensboro was named Newcomer of the Year. Methodist's Zach Nedbalski was named Coach of the Year.
The complete All-SEILC awards are listed below.
SEILC Men's Lacrosse Awards
Offensive Player of the Year: Jake Smerka, Methodist
Defensive Player of the Year: Matt Murphy, Huntingdon
Newcomer of the Year: Davis Miller, Greensboro
Coach of the Year: Zach Nedbalski
Faceoff Specialist: Sam Hitt, Huntingdon
Short-Stick Defensive-Midfielder: Vic Mehrtens, Greensboro
Long-Stick Midfielder: Brendan Schrantz, Ferrum
Jake Smerka, Methodist
Kyle Clarkson, Methodist
Davis Miller, Greensboro
Tyler Fullem, Ferrum
Jeremy Kohn, Piedmont
Jaylen Robinson, Methodist
Kendrick Ballard, Huntingdon
Ryan Tesler, Ferrum
Dan Richards, Methodist
John Tartline, Methodist
Josh Clayton, Huntingdon
Matt Murphy, Huntingdon