Limestone Leads Conference Carolinas Men's Poll
from press release
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Following another tremendous season that resulted in an on-going NCAA Division II record 14th straight postseason appearance and fifth straight league regular season and tournament championships, Limestone men's lacrosse has been picked as the favorite in the annual Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The Saints delivered an incredible campaign in 2013 that saw them go 16-2 overall and a perfect 6-0 in Conference Carolinas action while reaching the NCAA Division II National Semifinals and coming just seconds away from a second consecutive berth in the national title game. Both of those losses were by just one goal and came to eventual national champion Le Moyne (7-6) and national runner-up Mercyhurst (18-17).
While Limestone will be without the services of a number of top performers from last year, including all-time career goals leader Riley Loewen, the cupboard is far from bare as they enter the 2014 campaign. Senior attack Todd Nakasuji (Ajax, Ontario, Canada) headlines that group following 31 goals, 17 assists, 48 points and 25 groundballs and is joined by sophomore Mike Messenger (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada).
Both Messenger, a highly touted transfer from Division I High Point, and Nakasuji were named as Lacrosse Magazine Preseason All-American Honorable Mention. Along with those two top players, sophomore Reid Reinholdt (Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada) is back after an impressive freshman campaign in which he finished with 12 goals, 23 assists, 35 assists and 59 groundballs. The latter ranked as the second most on last year's team.
Entering the year, Limestone has already been picked No. 5 nationally by Lacrosse Magazine and No. 9 by Inside Lacrosse in their preseason polls and is expected to be among the top teams in the official United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association national poll when it is released later this month.
After racking up a school-record 13 wins in 2013, the Pfeiffer Falcons have been picked to finish second in the conference. The program has increased its win total each of the past four seasons, and went 13-4 overall and 5-1 in conference play a season ago. Pfeiffer is coming off back-to-back second place finishes and will look to take the next step under first year coach Jason Lange.
Lange will benefit from the return of two Preseason All-Americans, Steven Tilmon and Hayden Kirk, as named by InsideLacrosse.com. Midfielder Steven Tilmon finished the season as Pfeiffer's second leading goal scorer with 31 tallies, while adding 12 assists and 43 points. Tilmon ended the season in the top 10 of the conference in goals, shots and shots on goal and turned up his production in conference play as his 16 goals were third in the league.
Hayden Kirk started 15 games in goal last season and tallied 174 saves and an 8.63 goals against average, both good for second in the conference. Kirk recorded a season-high 15 saves in a 16-8 win over Catawba on Feb. 27 and allowed six or fewer goals in five contests. Kirk was especially stout at home, allowing only 7.09 goals per game.
Also returning for Pfeiffer is James Shepard, who scored a team-high 34 goals and also led the team with 50 points, while earning First Team All-Conference accolades.
Mount Olive, voted third in the preseason poll, returns its top five scorers from last year's squad that not only posted a 7-7 record in its first year of men's lacrosse, but also ranked sixth in the nation in scoring with 13.50 goals per game. The Trojans came within an overtime goal in their season finale of reaching the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Attacker Daniel Shields ranked fourth in the nation in assists per game and sixth in the nation in points per game. Shields was named to the 2013 All-Conference Carolinas First Team. Midfielder Jake Duarte and defender Sean Shewey both earned Second Team honors.
Along with Shields (31 goals-34 assists-65 points) and Duarte (21-7-28), top returning scorers include Matt Shields (29-24-53), Cameron Walsh (28-6-34) and Alex Tindal (10-9-19). In addition, the Trojans return starting goalkeeper Rocky Bowman.
Head coach Mike Murphy was named 2013 Conference Carolinas Men's Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
Belmont Abbey, finished fourth in the poll with Lee-McRae College respectively rounding-out the poll standings.
Conference Carolinas Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
Limestone 16 (4)
Pfeiffer 13 (1)
Mount Olive 9
Belmont Abbey 8
(First place votes)