HPU Men’s lax opens season at No. 3 Duke on Friday

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s lacrosse team kicks off its 2016 campaign at No. 3 Duke on Friday night at Koskinen Stadium.

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The Panthers are coming off the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the Southern Conference Tournament. Meanwhile, expectations for the Blue Devils are sky high with their top five scorers and both goalies returning from a 12-6 team.

Last Time Out
The Purple & White scrimmaged Marquette on Saturday, Feb. 6 and earned a 10-8 victory over the visiting Golden Eagles. Sophomore Connor Robinson posted three goals and two assists to pace a well-rounded offensive attack that saw six players post multiple points.

Behind the dynamic duo of senior Jamie Piluso (10-11) and freshman Alex Woodall (9-11), HPU dominated in the face-off circle. In goal, sophomore Zach Tuell tallied 13 saves to limit Marquette’s offense.

Three-Headed Attack
• Seniors Dan Lomas and Matt Thistle along with junior Michael LeClair form the nation’s eighth-highest scoring returning trio after combining for 152 points in 2015. The trio has accounted for 277 points of HPU’s 528 points over the last two seasons.

• All three were among top-five scorers in the SoCon last season. Thistle finished second in the league with 3.47 ppg, while LeClair was third (3.12 ppg) and Lomas placed fifth (2.94 ppg). Thistle and Lomas finished first and second in 2014.

Active National Leaders
• Senior Dan Lomas is second among active players nationally with 121 career goals. The Burlington, Ontario native also is 13th in the nation in career points (136).

• Just ahead of Lomas in career points is senior Matt Thistle with 147 – good for ninth nationally. He’s second in assists (80).

• Senior Jamie Piluso leads all active players in face-offs won (514) and ground balls (258).

Experience Abounds
The Panthers have 10 players that have seen action in at least 40 career contests led by Zack Price and Jamie Piluso who have played in all of HPU’s 48 contests. The other nine student-athletes are Nick Bittner, Richard Byrd, Tyler Cook, James Dunn, Dan Lomas, Joseph Taulane, Matt Thistle and Adam Seal.

A Look at Duke
• The Blue Devils ended their 2016 season with a 12-6 record and a loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after winning the national title in 2013 and 2014.

• Senior Myles Jones is the key to Duke’s success. The midfielder was the No. 1 pick in the MLL draft and is a two-time All-American heading into his final season in Durham. Jones posted 77 points (40g, 37a) as a junior and is considered by many to be the favorite to win the Tewaaraton Award after being a finalist in 2015.

• Jones is joined by senior Deemer Class to form what could be the most dangerous midfield in the nation. Class tallied 53 points (34g, 19a) as a junior and was taken with the No. 10 selection in the MLL draft.

• Jones and Class are joined by sophomore Justin Guterding (52g, 18a), junior Jack Bruckner (47g, 13a) and senior Case Matheis (20g, 19a) as Duke returns its top five scorers from 2015.

• Duke also brings back senior Luke Aaron (.486) and junior Danny Fowler (.489) in goal.

All-Time Series with the Blue Devils
The Blue Devils are 2-0 in the all-time series against the Purple & White. The first time the two programs met was a 16-7 win for Duke.

Last Time They Met
In last season’s meeting, the game was tied 13-13 before the Blue Devils scored the final three goals to earn a 16-13 win. Junior Cole Carns tallied four goals while senior Dan Lomas posted a hat trick. Meanwhile, junior Michael LeClair (2g) and senior Matt Thistle dished out four assists apiece.

Next Up
The Panthers play their home-opener on Tuesday at 4 p.m. against Boston University.