HPU MLAX Defense Leads Men’s LAX To 13-5 Win Over Sacred Heart

• Senior Pat Farrell recorded a program record with eight caused turnovers; the previous record was four.
• The Panthers’ defense allowed five goals, which is the fewest the program has ever allowed.
• High Point’s offense was incredibly balanced getting points from 13 different players.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s lacrosse team used a balanced offensive attack and a great defensive outing from senior Pat Farrell to earn a 13-5 triumph over Sacred Heart on Saturday in Vert Stadium.

The Panthers (2-3) jumped out to a 6-0 lead through the first 18 minutes of play with six different players tallying goals. After that run, the HPU defense, led by Farrell and senior Austin Geisler, never let the Pioneers (0-1) get any closer than four goals.

“It feels good to have a collective team effort today,” head coach Jon Torpey said. “One thing we need to remember is to play all four quarters, which I don’t think we did today. “

Farrell set a school record with eight caused turnovers and collected two ground balls. The eight caused turnovers doubled the previous program record of four.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do that without our other guys putting me in a position to succeed,” Farrell said. “Knowing I have a goalie like Geisler behind me allows me to go out and take some chances because if I do get beat he can bail me out.”

Meanwhile, Geisler made 10 saves and allowed five goals, the lowest allowed by the Purple & White in the program’s three-year history. He also picked up six ground balls.

“I have so much respect for Pat and Austin,” Torpey said of his seniors on the defensive end. “Any time you have those guys on your defense you feel confident. We really challenged them today because I don’t think they played as well as they could have last week.”

Offensively, the Panthers had 13 different players register a point. Junior Matt Thistle led the way with four points (2g, 2a). Junior Dan Lomas and freshman Connor Robinson were right behind Thistle as both players posted two goals and one assist.

Redshirt-juniors Brad James (2a) and Richard Byrd (1g, 1a) each tallied two points. The goal was the first of Byrd’s career.

Senior Hunter Edens, junior Jamie Piluso, and freshman Jason Ashwood each posted their first goals of the year while junior Tyler Cook and sophomores Cole Carns and Michael LeClair scored as well.

Freshmen Peyton Garrett and Michael Lanahan each registered their first career points with assists.

Piluso went 13-of-20 (65 percent) in the face-off circle winning 8-of-10 in the second half. He also led the squad with eight ground balls. The team had 17 different players credited with at least one ground ball.

HPU earned a +14 (39-25) margin in ground balls and caused 18 of the Pioneers’ 27 turnovers. The Purple & White got off 44 shots with 28 of them on goal (64 percent). On the other hand, Sacred Heart got off 22 shots with 15 on goal (68 percent).

The Panthers didn’t score in the first 3:30, but then unleashed their offense in a big way. Robinson scored first off an assist by Thistle to make it 1-0 with 11:30 on the clock. Five seconds later it was 2-0 as Piluso took the face-off and bolted in for a score (11:25).

The onslaught didn’t stop there. Thistle made it 3-0 with a goal at the 11:05 mark as HPU tallied three goals in 25 seconds.

Lomas, then, stretched the lead to four and extended the nation’s third longest goal-scoring streak to 22 games (4-0, 4:14). Cook added a man-up goal with 23 seconds left in the opening quarter to make it 5-0.

The lead swelled to six as Byrd got out in transition and found the back of the net (6-0, 12:48). The Pioneers fought back and got consecutive goals from Brian Masi and Bryce Jurk to cut the lead to four at 6-2 as the game reached the half.

Much like the first half, the Purple & White opened the second half on a run. Robinson, again, kicked off the second half scoring with an unassisted goal to make it 7-2 with 13:34 left in the third frame. Thistle, then, found a cutting Lomas who found the twine to give HPU an 8-2 lead (12:30).

The Panthers’ advantage ballooned to 10-2 as James assisted on goals by Carns (7:25) and Thistle (4:58). Sacred Heart pulled back within six at 10-4 as Thomas Diplacido (:54, third quarter) and Alex Dodge (13:58, fourth quarter) earned their first goals of the year.

However, HPU responded as Byrd found Ashwood in transition to make it 11-4 with 12:46 to play. Just 24 seconds later Garrett assisted on LeClair’s goal to put the Panthers up by eight again (12-4, 12:22).

Sacred Heart got Jurk’s second goal of the contest to make it 12-5 (7:47) before Edens closed out the scoring off an assist from Lanahan to make it 13-5 (:23).

The Purple & White will be back at home in Vert Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 28 to host Robert Morris at 11 a.m. with the women’s lacrosse team set to play UMBC at 2 p.m.