SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The High Point University women’s lacrosse team played in the NCAA Tournament for the second season in a row, taking an 18-4 loss to No. 8 seed Notre Dame in the first round on Friday night in South Bend, Ind. Senior Sara Kuhlman scored twice and had seven draw controls for the Panthers.
“No matter how much you think you’re ready, how much the team is prepared, you don’t really know until the game begins,” said HPU head coach Lyndsey Boswell. “Notre Dame is a great team and they showed why they were picked to host this weekend.
“One game doesn’t define a great season or the great careers that our seniors have had. Their hard work built this program to where it is today. I’m proud of our second NCAA Tournament appearance in a row and we’re going to keep working toward being competitive when we get to the tournament.”
High Point finished the season with a 14-6 overall record while Notre Dame improved to 10-8. The Fighting Irish advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where they will play Duke on Sunday at noon.
The Panthers led draw controls, 15-9, but trailed in every other statistical category.
Notre Dame ran out to a 7-0 lead in the first 12:25 of play, getting a pair of goals each from Kaitlyn Brosco, Rachel Sexton and Kiera McMullan. High Point finally got on the board when Gardner scored on a pass from Carroll with 14:19 remaining in the first half.
After Notre Dame’s Brie Custis scored, the Panthers were able to get their second goal with 7:25 left in the first half. Freshman Emily Meier passed the ball to Kuhlman, who weaved to her right and scored on a high shot. HPU’s Alec Perry won the ensuing draw control, took the ball into the arc and was fouled on her shot attempt. Her free-position shot was saved by Fighting Irish goalie Liz O’Sullivan.
After Notre Dame’s Brosco scored to make it 9-2, freshman goalie Hayley Peets entered the game to replace junior starter Julia Burns. She made a kick save on the first shot she faced. The Fighting Irish closed out he final minutes strong, including two more goals by Sexton, to finish the first half with a 12-2 lead.
Notre Dame scored the first four goals of the second half to keep the game out of reach for the Panthers. Freshman scoring leader Cortney Fortunato scored her second and third goals of the game during that run.
Kuhlman scored her second goal unassisted with 16:18 remaining. Perry scored for the Panthers with nine minutes to go in the game. She took a pass from Carroll, dodged a defender and shot the ball high into the net with 8:52 remaining.
Sexton finished the game with four goals, Fortunato had three goals and three assists and Brosco scored three goals with two assists for Notre Dame. O’Sullivan made four saves in 51:51 of work to improve to 3-3 on the season and Allie Murray made two saves in the final 8:09 for Notre Dame.
Kuhlman’s two goals and seven draw controls led the Panthers. Senior defender Patricia Bigelow had four caused turnovers and three ground balls and senior defender Cissy Woodyard had four ground balls. Burns (14-6) and Peets each made five saves in cage for HPU.
High Point advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row by beating Davidson, 11-6, in the Big South Championship last Sunday at Vert Stadium. HPU is 54-22 in four seasons of women’s lacrosse and has won a conference regular season or tournament championship every year.
Carroll, Kuhlman, Christie Dougherty and Jasmine Jordan finished their senior seasons having played in all 77 games in HPU women’s lacrosse history. Carroll finished her career as the Panthers’ all-time leader in goals (129), assists (134) and points (263), Jordan finished as the leader in ground balls (193) and caused turnovers (114) and Kuhlman is the all-time leader in draw controls (134).