DAVIDSON, N.C. — The High Point University women’s lacrosse team got three goals from sophomore midfielder Sara Kuhlman and survived a late five-goal run by Davidson to win, 13-11, in the National Lacrosse Conference Tournament semifinals on Saturday at Richardson Stadium in Davidson, N.C. The Panthers advanced to the championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“We knew that Davidson wasn’t going to let us walk all over them and they really made a run at us in the second half,” said HPU head coach Lyndsey Boswell. “I think our team got a little bit too comfortable with the score. We still have a young team and they’re still learning how to play through a weekend like this. Now that we were lucky enough to advance to the championship game, we can go all out and play our game tomorrow.”
High Point improved to 15-3 overall while Davidson finished the season at 8-10. The Panthers won the NLC regular season title with a 7-0 record.
Kuhlman also won four draw controls. Sophomore attacker Chelsea Thompson scored twice and had two assists and senior Alexis Goldman and sophomore Alec Perry each scored two goals. Sophomore defender Jasmine Jordan had three draw controls, three ground balls and three caused turnovers to lead the defense.
Davidson’s Ann Fucigna led all scorers with four goals – all consecutive late in the game – and had an assist. The Wildcats got two goals a piece from Erin Doherty and Alanna Parker. Davidson goalie Jessica Melby made nine saves, including seven in the first half.
Kuhlman won several draw controls in the opening minutes and scored the first two goals of the game. After Kuhlman’s second goal at 27:37, junior attacker Grace Gaeng scored 40 seconds later. The Panthers charged out to a 6-1 lead when Mackenzie Carroll hit a free-position shot with 23:35 left in the first half.
With HPU up 6-1, Davidson started to even it out and matched HPU for the rest of the first half. Parker got it started for the Wildcats on a feed from Fucigna with 17:31 remaining. After Thompson came around the cage and scored, Davidson called timeout and was able to respond with an Erin Keitel goal with 14:39 to go in the first half. Thompson set up Alec Perry and Perry netted the last goal of the first half with two minutes remaining, making it 10-5.
The Panthers won the first three draws of the second half and possessed the ball for the first 5:50, getting a free-position goal from Kuhlman and another score from Dougherty in the process. After a turnover went to the Wildcats, Davidson’s Jenna Mugele scored on a free-position shot from straight out. The Panthers responded winning their fourth-straight draw and freshman Kendyl Gardner scored with 23:37 on the clock to make it 13-6.
Davidson was then able to go on a five-goal run, including four in a row by Fucigna, to get within two goals with seven minutes to play. Erin Douherty scored on a free-position shot nearly identical to Mugele’s, making it 13-7. Fucigna then went off for her four to make it 13-11 with seven minutes to play.
Gaeng won the ensuing draw with 7:00 to go and the Panthers had some scoring opportunities, but Davidson was able to clear the ball and take it into HPU’s zone. The Panthers seized an opportunity with under four minutes left as senior midfielder Heather Ziccarelli intercepted a Davidson pass and tossed it to Courtney McLaughlin. The Panthers called timeout with 3:45 left. Upon returning, McLaughlin took the ball up the field and the Panthers held the ball the rest of the way to come away with the win.
Junior goalie Anna Wallingford started for High Point and made two saves in 52:18. Freshman Julia Burns came in and played the last 7:42. High Point controlled 10 more draws than Davidson and outshot the Wildcats, 30-16, but Davidson was able to keep it close with 16 clears on 17 attempts.
The National Lacrosse Conference Tournament final is Sunday at 1 p.m. at Richardson Stadium. High Point will face the winner of the semifinal between No. 2 Jacksonville and No. 3 Detroit, which begins at 2 p.m.