HPU MLAX Uses Record Performance To Best VMI 18-5

• Junior Matt Thistle paced the Panthers’ offense with three goals and two assists.
• Freshmen Connor Vanderbeek and Ben McCormack notched their first career goals as 18 players registered a point.
• Freshman Zach Tuell made 11 saves to hold the Keydets to two goals in 49 minutes in the goal.

LEXINGTON, Va. – The High Point University men’s lacrosse team opened the game on a 10-0 run and cruised to an 18-5 victory over VMI in Lexington, Va. on Friday night.

The Panthers (7-6, 3-2) set a program record with 18 goals and clinched a spot in the Southern Conference tournament by earning the win. On the other side, the Keydets (0-13, 0-6) saw their SoCon season end without a win.

“We really challenged the guys in practice this week and it was great to see how they responded,” head coach Jon Torpey said. “This was a strong, collective team effort and I look forward to seeing how we compete this week in practice.”

Junior Matt Thistle led the way offensively, with five points (3g, 2a) as 18 different Panthers tallied a point. Junior Dan Lomas and sophomores Sean Harrison and Michael LeClair all scored two goals apiece.

Redshirt-junior Harris Levine gave the team its fourth multi-point scorer with a goal and an assist. Redshirt-juniors Richard Byrd and Spencer Wichert, juniors Tyler Cook and Joseph Taulane and freshmen Peyton Garrett, Connor Vanderbeek, Ben McCormack and Connor Robinson all scored a goal each.

Defensively, freshman Zach Tuell made 11 saves and posted a .846 save percentage in 49 minutes in the goal. Junior Zack Price caused two turnovers and picked up a ground ball.

The Panthers controlled the face-off circle as junior Jamie Piluso went 10-of-17 (.588) while senior Chris Davila went 3-of-5 (.500). Levine led the squad with five ground balls, as Piluso tallied four. The Purple & White earned a +8 margin (32-24 in ground balls.

The Keydets forced a turnover after the opening face-off and took the first shot of the game, which was stopped by Tuell. The Panthers offense took it from there, as goals from Thistle, Levine and Lomas gave HPU a 3-0 advantage just 2:30 into the contest.

Harrison extended the lead to 4-0 with an unassisted goal at the 11:48 mark. From there, Thistle found the back of the net again before LeClair and Cook scored within a 15-second period to make it 7-0 with 9:34 left in the opening frame.

LeClair, then, opened the scoring in the second quarter on an assist from freshman T Moyer (8-0, 13:13). Wichert made it 9-0 with 11:59 left in the second frame.

The Keydets had a golden opportunity to pull closer with a three-minute penalty on the Panthers. But two saves from Tuell and solid defensive play all around allowed HPU to kill the penalty and maintain a 9-0 lead (5:24).

Thistle extended the advantage to double digits with a goal at the 4:16 mark on an assist by junior Brad James (10-0). But the shutout ended there, as VMI got on the board to cut the lead to nine at 10-1 late in the second quarter. However, Harrison scored with 30 seconds left in the half to give HPU its double-digit lead at the break (11-1).

Robinson started the scoring in the second half before Lomas followed with his second goal to make it 13-1 with 7:59 remaining in the third stanza. Taulane scored in transition of an assist from Levine to make it 14-1 (1:27).

VMI answered with a man-up goal with a minute left in the third quarter to make it 14-2. However, Byrd scored his second goal of the year (15-2, 13:00) before Vanderbeek notched the first goal of his career to extend the lead to 16-2 with 11:31 left to play.

The Keydets sandwiched goals around Garrett’s goal to make it 17-4 with 4:19 left in the game. From threre, McCormack scored an unassisted goal with 1:45 left in the game to tally his first career goal. VMI added a goal in the final 40 seconds to make it an 18-5 final.

The Purple & White will wrap up its regular season at home against Bellarmine at 1 p.m. on the American Sports Network. Prior to the game the team will honor its first ever four-year class of seniors.