HPU MLAX Takes SoCon Title With 2OT Win Over Richmond, 9-8

• Sophomore Sean Harrison scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime period to give HPU the win.
• Junior Dan Lomas scored four goals to break his own HPU single-season goal scoring record with 43 on the year.
• Redshirt-senior Austin Geisler won SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player with 15 saves and two ground balls.
• The win is the team’s first victory over a top-20 team and clinches a berth in the program’s first NCAA Tournament.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s lacrosse team won 9-8 to earn the Southern Conference Championship over No. 20 Richmond in double overtime on Saturday in Richmond, Va.

Sophomore Sean Harrison found the back of the net off a beautiful pass from redshirt-junior Brad James to clinch the game with 1:13 left in the second overtime.

The Panthers trailed by three goals (8-5) with 7:30 left in the fourth frame, but closed regulation on a 3-0 run before winning the game in the second extra period.

“This is phenomenal,” head coach Jon Torpey said. “All the credit goes to our guys because we stayed composed when we were down. Richmond has been the class of our conference and they made us better by making us look into our deficiencies.”

Redshirt-senior Austin Geisler, who was named SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player, made 15 saves on the day – including one in the second overtime. The Fredericksburg, Va. native also had two ground balls on the afternoon, but knows a title is a team accomplishment.

“The team really came together over the last few weeks of the season and played for each other and that’s what gave us the victory today,” Geisler said. “We wanted to play High Point lacrosse and do what we do best and let the rest take care of itself.”

Offensively, junior Dan Lomas led the Purple & White. The SoCon Offensive Player of the Year lived up to that billing on Saturday with four goals and an assist. The four goals allowed Lomas to surpass his own HPU single-season record with 43 goals on the year.

Sophomore Cole Carns, who hadn’t scored a goal since tallying 10 in Feb., posted two goals, one of which tied the score with 46 seconds left in regulation. Likewise, junior Matt Thistle scored two goals with both coming in the fourth quarter.

Senior Pat Farrell, an All-Tournament selection, registered a team-high four ground balls and caused two turnovers on the day. Meanwhile, redshirt-juniors Richard Byrd, Adam Seal and Harris Levine each picked up three ground balls apiece.

Sophomore Michael LeClair, the hero of the semifinal win over Mercer, dished out three assists while James had the team’s other assist.

The Spiders earned a 40-32 advantage in ground balls and took six more shots (39-33), but couldn’t get anything past Geisler and the HPU defense in the final 18 minutes.

Lomas, LeClair and Harrison joined Geisler and Farrell on the SoCon All-Tournament team for their performances during weekend’s action.

The Spiders struck first as J.P. Forester found Mitch Goldberg for a goal just 42 seconds into the game (1-0, 14:18). After a few big saves by the Geisler the Panthers were able to get a scoring opportunity. Redshirt-junior Spencer Wichert lost control on a fast break, but Lomas was there to scoop up the ground ball and score (1-1, 8:09).

HPU surged ahead when LeClair found Lomas cutting in front of the next for his second goal of the game (2-1, 0:40). Richmond got two more shots on goal, but Geisler stopped them both to send the Panthers to the second stanza with a 2-1 advantage.

The Panthers nearly added to their lead as Thistle beat his man before his shot glanced off the post. From there, Richmond had several chances to tie the score, but each time Geisler made the stop to maintain the lead (2-1, 6:52). Despite Geisler’s 10 first-half saves, the Spiders tied the score at the 2:05 mark to send the game to the break knotted at 2-2.

Much like the first half, Goldberg put the Spiders back on top with a goal just over a minute into the second half (3-2, 13:50). Richmond made it a 4-0 run as Jean-Luc Chetner (11:00) and Goldberg (8:43) to build a 5-2 lead.

Carns halted the run there with a goal at the 3:44 mark to make it 5-3. Lomas posted his third goal of the game two minutes later to cut the deficit to one (5-4).

However, Richmond responded with goals by Goldberg (0:35) and Chetnet (14:13) to build a 7-4 advantage. Thistle, then, scored off an assist from Lomas to pull HPU within two (7-5, 10:01). But once again, the Spiders answered as Chetnet’s shot just snuck into the goal (8-5, 9:15). Richmond wouldn’t score again.

Lomas got the comeback started with his fourth goal of the game when LeClair found him cutting in front of the goal (8-6, 7:23). Thistle added his second goal of the game before LeClair found Carns for the game-tying goal with 46 seconds to play.

After both teams failed to score in the final 46 seconds of regulation and the first overtime, the game moved to a second extra period.

Junior Jamie Piluso took the opening face-off. However, HPU couldn’t score and the ball went back to Richmond with the game on the line. But as he did all day, Geisler came up with a huge save to set the offense up with a chance to win.

That’s when Harrison decided 68 minutes of lacrosse was enough and scored on James’ assist to give the Panthers the win.

High Point will find out its NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday night. A watch party will be held at The Pointe on Sunday night as the Selection Show will be aired on ESPNU.