• High Point defeated Longwood, 1-0, to earn its sixth Big South tournament championship in program history and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
• Senior Alex Hank tied a career high with eight saves in the shutout and earned tournament MVP honors.
• The Panthers will learn their NCAA First Round opponent on Monday at 4:30 p.m. during the NCAA Selection Show.
GREENSBORO, N.C. – For the sixth time in program history, the High Point University women’s soccer team is heading to the NCAA Tournament. High Point defeated Longwood, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon at Bryan Park to clinch the first trip for HPU since 2014.
“I’m really excited about today and really happy for our girls,” head coach Marty Beall said. “It was a gritty performance against a really good Longwood team. Our girls were really disciplined for the full 90 minutes and I’m so proud and excited they get to return to the national tournament.
“Our senior class came in as freshmen, helped us win a conference tournament and advance to the nationals tournament. Now, they get to do it again as seniors. I’m really happy for them. They’ve put a lot of time and effort into this program.”
The Panthers’ (13-7-1) sixth championship ties for the most in the history of the Big South. For the second time in program history, the Purple & White claimed the regular season and tournament titles in the same campaign.
High Point came out aggressive in the opening 15 minutes, penning Longwood in its own end. HPU was unable to generate any shot attempts, though, and ultimately ceded a majority of the possession to the Lancers (13-5-3).
Longwood peppered senior keeper Alex Hank in the opening half. Hank made five saves before halftime after being called upon to make only two stops in the first two games of the tournament combined. Her best stop in the first half came in the 24th minute on a long free kick that landed in the box and nearly bounced into the net.
Similar to Friday’s semifinal, HPU began to regain traction with its substitutes making an impact. The Panthers had a long free kick opportunity denied in the 38th minute, but earned another set piece from inside the midfield line a minute later, resulting in the game’s only tally.
Senior Taylor Romano’s initial ball was headed away to the middle of the field and regained by sophomore Allie Reagan. The defender took her time and lobbed another ball towards the box that was placed perfectly at the feet of senior Meredith Dunker, who had come on as a sub six minutes prior. Dunker was able to get enough on a shot and slide it inside the far post, evading Longwood keeper Maria Kirby.
Dunker’s second tally of the year, both having come in the last two games, gave HPU a 1-0 advantage they would take in the locker room. Hank assured the Panthers a lead with two more saves in the final minute of the stanza.
Tempers flared early in the second half when dueling yellow cards were dealt to each side after a controversial tackle outside the High Point box in the 59th minute. Longwood received a free kick after the squabble, but the High Point wall denied the opportunity.
The Lancers continued with their relentless pressure. Hank was called upon to make consecutive routine saves in the 65th and 66th minutes to keep the match scoreless. Her eighth and final save, which tied a career high, came during a sequence of three corner kicks for Longwood in a 90-second span.
High Point was able to hold the Lancers without a shot on goal for the final 20 minutes. With the clock dwindling down, the Lancers had the ball in the box but senior Paige Lloyd cleared the ball to the sideline to ignite the celebration.
The victory marked an even 50 for High Point’s senior class in their careers. The 15-member unit will participate in their second NCAA tournament.
Hank was named the tournament MVP after making eight saves in her ninth individual shutout of the season. Dunker and fellow seniors Michele Micciche and Paige Rombach were named to the Big South All-Tournament team.
HPU will play in the first round of the NCAA tournament next weekend at a date and time to be determined. The Panthers will play either Friday, Saturday or Sunday. More details will come following the NCAA selection show on Monday at 4:30 p.m.