HIGH POINT, N.C. – Junior Dan Lomas scored six goals and sophomore Michael LeClair added the game-winner with 40 seconds left to give the High Point University men’s lacrosse team a 10-9 triumph over Bellarmine on Saturday.
The Panthers (8-6, 4-2) honored their 17 seniors in style by defeating the Knights (4-8, 2-4) not leading until the final 40 seconds of the contest.
The visitors had a chance retake the lead with a minute to play, but freshman Zach Tuell made a huge save to regain possession for HPU. The Gainesville, Va. native, then, launched a clearing pass down the field to Lomas.
Lomas tried to avoid an oncoming defender, but the ball was checked out of his stick and high into the air. LeClair followed the flight of the ball and caught it in front of the net and beat Drew Goethals for the clinching goal.
“Mike is a really high I.Q. player and it was great to see a guy who has worked so hard get the chance to make a play and finish a game like that,” head coach Jon Torpey said.
Lomas tied his own program record with six goals to lead the offense as LeClair notched a hat trick of his own.
“The guys played well as a team and I thought the defense really dug in their heels and held a very talented offensive team scoreless in the fourth quarter to get the win,” Torpey said. “Lomas was exceptional today and he’s one of the most competitve guys I’ve ever coached. We also need Jamie Piluso to be great at this point in the season and he was that today.”
Junior Jamie Piluso helped the Panthers dominate possession in the rainy conditions. The Ridgewood, N.J. native went 17-of-21 (.810) on face-offs, picked up nine ground balls and added an assist. Face-off wings redshirt-junior Adam Seal and redshirt-junior Harris Levine combined for eight ground balls on the day.
Defensively, Tuell moved to 4-0 as a starter with 15 saves on the day. Senior Pat Farrell led the defense with two caused turnovers and two ground balls. The Purple & White earned a +8 margin (30-22) on ground balls and caused seven turnovers.
Junior Matt Thistle scored the Panthers’ 10th goal and posted two assists while redshirt-junior Brad James dished out two assists.
The Knights jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals by Brogan Hill and Ryan Scinta before the first media timeout (7:12). Piluso, then, won the face-off and found LeClair for a goal to make it 2-1 with 6:55 left in the quarter.
Soon after, Dylan Gatt had the answer for Bellarmine scoring an acrobatic goal (3-1) with 6:02 on the first quarter clock. HPU pulled back within one when Lomas scored a man-up goal to make it 3-2 (2:27). Once again, the Knights tallied a goal to regain their 2-goal advantage at 4-2 to the end the opening stanza.
The Panthers opened the second quarter on a man-down situation, but a caused turnover by Levine led to a man-down goal by Lomas at the 14:11 mark (4-3). Two minutes later the Burlington, Ontatio native made it a hat trick in just 18 minutes of action and knotted the score at 4-4 (12:12).
Bellarmine had the answer though as Gatt scored before Lomas registered his fourth goal of the half to, again, knot the score (5-5, 5:45). However, the Panthers couldn’t take the lead as Austin Shanks gave the Knights the 6-5 lead. But as he did all day, Lomas answered to send the game to the break tied 6-6.
After halftime, Taylor Stuart put Bellarmine up 7-6 with 12:30 in the third stanza. LeClair, then, added an unassisted goal to even the score at 7-7 with 8:24 remaining in the third.
From there, the Knights built a 2-goal advantage as Jack Perkins and Scinta scored back-to-back goals to make it 9-7 (5:54). Lomas, however, wouldn’t let the Panthers fall too far behind and added his school-record tying sixth goal of the afternoon (9-8, 4:24).
Thistle continued the comeback with a diving goal with 10:35 left to play to knot the score at 9-9. The Panthers finally pulled ahead on LeClair’s goal with 40 seconds left in the clock. Fittingly, Piluso won the ensuing face-off and Lomas ran out the clock launching the ball into the air as the clock hit zeros.
“This is season No. 2 coming up and all we are doing is fighting for another opportunity for these seniors to play another game,” Torpey said. “These are 17 of the greatest guys I’ve ever coached, I love these players, and I want these guys to finish their careers on top.”
High Point will head to Richmond, Va. to take part in the Southern Conference Tournament as the No. 3 seed. The squad will play No. 2 Mercer on Thursday at 5 p.m.