HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s lacrosse team will play in its first ever NCAA Tournament game on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against No. 17 Towson in Baltimore, Md.
The Panthers (10-6) are riding a four-game winning streak, their longest of the season, and enter the tournament as 2015 Southern Conference champs. Meanwhile, the Tigers (11-5) won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament despite losing their last two games of the regular season.
Last Time Out:
The Purple & White registered two one-goal victories in the SoCon Tournament to earn the program’s first conference tournament title.
In the semifinals, sophomore Michael LeClair scored the game-winning goal with 40 seconds on the clock to beat Mercer. Two days later, sophomore Sean Harrison found the back of the net to give HPU a 9-8 double-overtime win over Richmond in the SoCon title game.
Redshirt-senior Austin Geisler and the defense carried the Panthers late in both of the wins. HPU held the Bears scoreless for the final 12:54 to earn the victory before not allowing the Spiders to score in the last 18:02 of the title game. Geisler made 25 saves on 39 shots on goal to post a .641 save percentage and earn tournament Most Outstanding Player honors.
Offensively, the Panthers got 16 points (10g, 6a) from their three All-SoCon attackmen. Junior Dan Lomas led the way with five goals and an assist while fellow junior Matt Thistle added three goals and two assists. LeClair rounded out the trio’s scoring with two goals and three assists.
Sophomore Cole Carns notched two goals against Richmond. Harrison scored a goal in each game, including the championship-clinching goal. Senior defender Pat Farrell joined Geisler, Lomas, LeClair and Harrison on the all-tournament team.
A Look at Towson:
The Tigers dropped their final two regular season games – including a 9-2 home loss to Hofstra – but battled back to earn an NCAA bid by winning the CAA.
Towson opened the CAA tournament by avenging its most recent loss with an 11-8 triumph over Drexel. In the title game, the Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead on UMass only to see the Minutemen fight back and take a 6-5 lead in the third. However, Towson answered with a 3-0 run to regain the lead and earn a 9-8 victory.
Defensively, redshirt-junior goalie Tyler White leads the squad, which ranks second in the nation in scoring defense (7.44 goals per game). White, the CAA Defensive Player of the Year, has a 7.24 goals against average and boasts a .575 save percentage.
All-CAA selections senior Jojo Ostrander and sophomore Tyler Mayes help White hold opposing offenses down. The duo has combined for 42 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers on the year.
On the other end, sophomore Joe Seider paced the Tigers’ offense to earn First Team All-CAA honors. Seider leads the team in points (38) and goals (32) and has taken more than double the amount of shots of any of his teammates. Sophomore Ryan Drenner is the squad’s second leading scorer (34 points) and leads the team with 18 assists.
Sophomore Alec Burckley is the team’s face-off specialist and is 133-of-246 (.541) with 62 ground balls on the year.
• The Panthers and the Tigers are familiar foes. HPU bested Towson on Feb. 8, 2013 with a 9-7 win in Vert Stadium. The Tigers responded with an 11-8 home win last season.
• The Purple & White got its first NCAA win against Towson in 2013 and will now face the Tigers in the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
• Juniors Dan Lomas and Matt Thistle along with sophomore Michael LeClair have accounted for 147 points this season. They entered the year as the fourth-highest scoring returning trio in the country after combining for 125 points in 2014.
• Senior Pat Farrell and junior Zack Price have combined to cause 42 turnovers this year. The two are tied for 14th nationally each causing 1.63 turnovers per contest. Only Harvard has two players above Farrell and Price.
• Dan Lomas has upped his own HPU single-season goal record with 43 on the season. The Burlington, Ontario native has scored 22 goals in the last seven games.
• Redshirt-senior Austin Geisler stood on his head throughout the SoCon tournament stopping 25 of the 39 shots that he faced to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.
• High Point is 3-1 in tournament play in the program’s three-year history with all four games being decided by one point.
• The Panthers’ veteran defense has locked down opposing offenses to clinch wins in the last three games.
• Bellarmine – 3-0 over final 20:54
• Mercer – 1-0 over the final 12:57
• Richmond – 4-0 over the final 18:02
• The Panthers have had 28 different players tally a point this season. In comparison, only 22 Panthers were credited with a point in 2014.
With a win the Purple & White would advance to the round of 16 and play No. 1 Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. on Saturday, May 9 at 5 p.m.