HPU MLAX Panthers Trek North To Tussle With Keydets

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s lacrosse team is on the road for the final time this season to play VMI in Lexington, Va. on Friday at 7 p.m.

The Panthers (6-6, 2-2) will look to rebound from Saturday’s setback and clinch a spot in the Southern Conference tournament. On the other hand, the Keydets (0-12, 0-5) will vie for their first win of the year in their final SoCon contest of 2015.

Last Time Out:
The Panthers got out to an early 1-0 lead over Richmond as sophomore Michael LeClair scored three minutes into the game. However, the Spiders stormed back with a 6-0 run to build a 6-1 lead. From there, HPU scored the last two goals of the half to cut the deficit to three at 6-3, but once again Richmond responded with a 4-0 run en route to a 20-9 victory.

Junior Matt Thistle got back to his scoring ways with five points. It was the Chelmsford, Mass. native’s seventh time this season to score four or more points, but the first time since March 7 at Marist. Meanwhile, junior Dan Lomas and sophomore Michael LeClair tallied two scores apiece and senior Hunter Edens scored his second goal of the year. Thistle and LeClair were two of seven different Panthers to earn an assist in the contest.

On the defensive end, junior Zack Price and redshirt-junior Richard Byrd each caused two turnovers. In the goal, redshirt-senior Austin Geisler made a dozen saves in 50 minutes.

Redshirt-junior Adam Seal and sophomore Tanner Landstra both picked up four ground balls as HPU lost the ground ball battle by a -2 margin (30-28). Richmond controlled possession on the face-off as well going 19-of-32 (.593) en route to taking 44 shots compared to the Purple & White’s 31 attempts.

The Opponent:
Along with NJIT, VMI is one of two Division I lacrosse teams still looking for its first win of the 2015 season. The Keydets are coming off a 2-12 season, which featured a season-ending win over eventual Atlantic Sun champion Richmond.

On April 11, the Keydets dropped their 12th consecutive game with a 13-5 loss at Furman. The squad had five different players notch a goal and was led by freshman Tom Nofi with a goal and two assists. Senior Tyler Prasnicki collected eight ground balls and caused five turnovers in the setback.

Prasnicki has been the brightest spot for VMI this season. The Lexington, Va. native is leading the nation with 2.50 caused turnovers per game and also leads the team with 45 ground balls in 2015. Offensively, junior Dan Bull leads the team with 12 points (7g, 5a) while senior Mike DeBlasio paces the Keydets with eight goals.

Freshman Cody Lalicker is the team’s main face-off specialist and owns a .457 (84-of184) win percentage on the year. Senior Evan Windisch and freshman Joe Riccadonna share time in goal. Windisch is stopping .442 of the shots he faces and Riccadonna has a .398 save percentage.

Panther Notes:

• The Panthers won the only previous matchup between these two programs with a 9-8 victory in Vert Stadium on March 8, 2014. Junior Matt Thistle paced the offense with four assists and one goal. Defensively, redshirt-junior Richard Byrd caused three turnovers and redshirt-senior Austin Geisler made nine saves.

• With a win, HPU would clinch a spot in the four-team Southern Conference Tournament.

• The Panthers have had 25 different players tally a point this season. In comparison, only 22 Panthers were credited with a point in 2014.

• Junior Dan Lomas leads the SoCon with 30 goals this season. Last season, the Burlington, Ontario native paced the league with 42 scores.

• The Panthers have three players among the top six in the conference in the league in points per game. Junior Matt Thistle is third with 3.60 ppg while sophomore Michael LeClair is fourth (3.42 ppg) and junior Dan Lomas is sixth (3.00 ppg).

• Senior Pat Farrell and junior Zack Price have combined to cause 44 turnovers and are the only teammates to rank in the top-15 nationally in CTs per game. Price is eighth (1.92/g) while Farrell is 11th (1.75/g).

Next Up:
The Purple & White will celebrate senior day prior to the regular season finale against Bellarmine on Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m. on the American Sports Network.