HIGH POINT, N.C. – Limestone College midfielder Mike Messenger was voted the 2016 Conference Carolinas Men's Lacrosse Offensive Player of the Year, while teammate Tyler Gaulton was voted Defensive Player of the Year. Additionally, University of Mount Olive's Austin Whitlow was named the Conference's Freshman of the Year and Limestone's J.B. Clarke garnered the Coach of the Year, the Conference announced today.
Messenger, a senior midfielder from Surrey, British Columbia, was named the Conference Carolinas Offensive Player of the Year for a third straight season. Messenger, a three-time conference player of the week this season, has been one of the leaders on the nation’s top-ranked offensive unit, guiding the Saints to a 20.65 goals per game average. The two-time All-America was named the 2016 Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Player of the Year and has lived up to the billing with 49 goals and 25 assists for a total of 74 points this season.
A sophomore from Enniskillen, Ontario, Gaulton continues to prove himself as one of the nation’s top defenders as he was named the Conference Carolinas Defensive Player of the Year. The 2015 USILA Third-Team All-America and 2016 Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Preseason All-America anchors the nation’s fourth-ranked defense, a unit that has allowed 7.24 goals per game this season. The defense has been even more impressive in league play, allowing just 4.8 goals per contest.
Whitlow, a midfielder from Austin, Texas, scooped up 30 ground balls and registered 21 points on 11 assists and 10 goals in his first year as a Trojan. His biggest game came against Wingate University, where Whitlow notched a hat-trick to help lift the Trojans over the Bulldogs 9-8.
J.B. Clarke was named the Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year for a third straight season after guiding the Saints to the first undefeated regular season in program history. Coming off back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championships, the Saints have spent the entire year ranked No. 1 in the USILA National Poll with a perfect 17-0 mark heading into the Conference Carolinas Men's Lacrosse Championship. Limestone currently leads the nation in scoring offense, averaging over 20 goals per game, and is ranked fourth in the country in scoring defense.
All-Conference Carolinas First Team
A – Kyle Rhatigan, Limestone
A – Adam Wiedemann, Belmont Abbey
A – Vinny Ricci, Limestone
A – Matt Shields, Mount Olive
A – Charlie Sheehan, Limestone
MF – Mike Messenger, Limestone
MF – Colton Watkinson, Limestone
MF – Cole Sheen, Pfeiffer
MF – Matt Michaeli, Pfeiffer
D – Tyler Gaulton, Limestone
D – Luke Morris, Mount Olive
D – PJ White, Limestone
LSM – Devin Cruz, Belmont Abbey
Spec. – Kevin Reisman, Limestone
GK – Patrick Sheridan, Limestone
All-Conference Carolinas Second Team
A – Connor Sellars, Belmont Abbey
A – Jordan Saunderson, Limestone
A – Brett Kingston, Mount Olive
MF – Callum Tanner, Belmont Abbey
MF – Austin Whitlow, Mount Olive
MF – Ryan Maciejewski, Limestone
MF – Chris Clancy, Limestone
MF – Kyle McGinley, Belmont Abbey
D – Kenny Robertson, Pfeiffer
D – Curtis McMullen, Mount Olive
D – Billy Koelmel, Limestone
LSM – Ryan Mulka, Limestone
Spec. – Ryan Morris, Mount Olive
Spec. – Tyler Feniello, Mount Olive
GK – Ross Bowman, Mount Olive
Offensive Player of the Year
Mike Messenger, Limestone
Defensive Player of the Year
Tyler Gaulton, Limestone
Freshman of the Year
Austin Whitlow, Mount Olive
Coach of the Year
J.B. Clarke, Limestone
Regular Season Men's Lacrosse Champion
Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletics conference made up of 12 teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey College, Converse College, Emmanuel College, Erskine College, King University, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, University of Mount Olive, North Greenville University, Pfeiffer University, and Southern Wesleyan University. Emmanuel College and Southern Wesleyan University are currently completing the NCAA DII membership process and will be fully competing in league championships in the near future.