CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The High Point University women’s lacrosse team’s historic season came to an end with an 18-7 loss to No. 11 Loyola in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Fetzer Field on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, N.C. Freshman Leah Pace and junior Alec Perry both notched hat tricks for the Panthers.
It’s just the third season of varsity women’s lacrosse for High Point, which finished the season 10-9 overall. Loyola improved to 11-8 and will face No. 3 North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at Fetzer Field.
“It was a big step for our program to get to this stage,” said HPU head coach Lyndsey Boswell. “We reached a major goal for our program in getting to the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately we didn’t come out with the energy we needed to today and a great program like Loyola is going to capitalize on that. Their players have been to NCAA Tournaments before, they know what it’s like to be out here. We’re hoping to use this opportunity to gain that type of experience.”
Perry’s hat trick was her eighth of the season and she also had a career-high five draw controls. Having scored just three goals all season entering today’s game, Pace went off from a statistical standpoint. She had three ground balls and three caused turnovers in addition to her hat trick. Junior defender Jasmine Jordan had four caused turnovers.
Loyola got goals from 10 different players, including six who had multi-goal performances. Joanna Dalton and Hannah Schmidt each posted hat tricks for the Greyhounds while starting goalie Molly Wolf made seven saves on 11 shots faced in 45:08 of play.
Loyola’s Marlee Paton scored the first goal of the game with an assist from Annie Thomas just 1:32 into the action. The Panthers’ first good scoring opportunity came off the next draw when senior Grace Gaeng passed the ball to Mackenzie Carroll in close, but Carroll’s shot was stopped by Wolf. It was the first of Wolf’s six saves in the first half alone.
The Greyhounds went on to score the next five goals, most coming off nine HPU turnovers in the first 14 minutes. After that point, the Panthers controlled the ball better but still had a hard time getting the ball past Wolf. HPU had two free-position shots that were stonewalled in the first half.
High Point finally got on the board when Carroll got a pass to junior Christie Dougherty, who was free at the top of the arc. Dougherty had a clear path up the middle and shot it in, making it 6-1 with 7:52 left in the first half.
Loyola responded with a goal right away as Taryn VanThof threaded a pass to Sydney Thomas in front, who shot it low past HPU starter Anna Wallingford with 6:53 on the clock. The Greyhounds added a goal by Hulseman and two by Schmitt before the first half was over, making it 10-1 at the break.
The Panthers got off to a better start in the second half as freshman Emily Meier controlled the opening draw and the Panthers got the first shot off, but Sara Kuhlman’s attempt went over the cross bar. Loyola’s Dalton scored on a free-position attempt a minute later to make it 11-1.
HPU got some momentum thereafter. Perry scored on a free-position attempt, getting a top-to-bottom shot to make it 11-2 with 24:31 left in the game. Down 13-2, Pace scored for the first time. Stephanie Pazulski won a draw and passed the ball to Pace who took it all the way in and beat the defense to score with 19:06 left.
Pace added two more in the second half. The next came on a free-position shot with 16:16 remaining that made it 14-4. She had gotten a shot off through the defense in the moments prior, Wolf made the save and Pace controlled the ball out of mid air, eventually earning the FPS. Her third goal came with 7:05 on the clock to make it 16-6. She caused a turnover in the midfield and, after the Panthers moved the ball around the zone, she got it on the right side and came around for the score.
Loyola continually broke High Point’s offensive momentum in the second half. HPU scored consecutive goals just once in the game – when Perry scored with 10:05 to go and Pace scored with 7:05 on the clock – which made it 16-6 at the time. Hulseman scored the final goal as time ran out.
Perry scored a goal in every game this season and led the team with 40. Wallingford made five saves in 41:49 before she was relieved by sophomore Julie Burns. Burns made one save on five chances in 18:11 of play. Wallingford finished her career as HPU’s all-time leader in wins (24) and saves (214) in two seasons. High Point’s program record is 40-17 in three seasons.