• High Point clinched a share of its second straight Big South regular season title, earning the first back-to-back league championships in the program’s 26-year history.
• Senior Michele Micciche scored her team-leading fourth goal in the 11th minute to give High Point a 1-0 lead. Senior Paige Rombach struck in the 38th minute to add insurance.
• Senior goalkeeper Alex Hank made six saves, two shy of a career high, to secure her seventh individual shutout of the season.
CLINTON, S.C. – For the second straight year, the High Point University women’s soccer team secured at least a share of the Big South regular season title, completing the regular season with a 2-0 victory at Presbyterian College on Saturday night. In the process, the Panthers won their fourth straight match to finish the year.
“I am extremely proud of this team for becoming the first team to win back-to-back regular season championships (in program history),” head coach Marty Beall said. “After everything we’ve been through this year, this is a sweet reward that shows how resilient this team is.”
High Point (10-7-1, 7-1-1), which won the title outright in 2016, will share the crown this year with Liberty after both teams completed the regular season at 7-1-1. It’s the first time in the 26-year program history that HPU has held a share of consecutive regular season championships. Overall, the Panthers earned their fourth Big South regular season title, all having come in the last eight years.
“Tonight was a hard-fought match and I’m very proud of our girls for competing with composure for 90 minutes tonight,” Beall said. “It wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done tonight in a tough place to play.”
HPU came out aggressive in the match, earning a free kick from just outside the box in the fourth minute that senior Michele Micciche sent wide. Micciche would not miss on her next opportunity, putting the Panthers ahead in the 11th minute. Senior Bailey Beattie sent in a strong cross from the left side that the Presbyterian (3-13-0, 1-7-0) goalkeeper bobbled. Micciche was right on top of things, blasting the loose ball to the roof of the goal for a 1-0 lead. It was Micciche’s team-leading fourth goal of the season.
The Purple & White added on in the 38th minute off a free kick. Senior Taylor Romano played a ball in to the box that skipped out to the top after a couple deflections. Senior Paige Rombach stepped up and scored her third goal of the year, smashing a shot through a maze of defenders to the low left side for a 2-0 advantage.
High Point kept pressing in the second half, nearly adding another tally in the 50th minute when senior Becca Rolfe had two shots from within the penalty area denied. Presbyterian swung the momentum back in its favor, firing shots in the 55th and 56th minute that were saved by senior goalkeeper Alex Hank. The keeper was called on again in the 63rd minute to make a stop on a header from a corner.
Hank finished with six saves, two shy of a career high, to preserve her seventh solo clean sheet of the season and 27th of her career. She is now 14 stops shy of breaking High Point’s all-time saves record.
The Panthers finished the match with a 17-13 edge in shots, including 8-6 in on-target tries. Micciche recorded a team-high four shots, including two on net.
HPU now awaits its official seeding and matchup in the first round of the Big South tournament, which is scheduled to be announced Tuesday following the conclusion of the league’s regular season. High Point is guaranteed to host a home quarterfinal match against a to be determined opponent on Friday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. The semifinals and championship will be played at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. on Friday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 5, respectively.