• Freshman Asher Nolting scored the game-winning goal – his second goal of the day – with 19.9 seconds left on the clock.
• Sophomore Davis Sampere went 10-of-17 at the face-off ‘X’ including a win on the final face-off to allow the Panthers to run out the clock.
• Senior Connor Robinson scooped up the game’s final ground ball to put a cap on a four-point (2g, 2a), two-ground ball outing.
USAFA, Colo. – Playing in his home state, freshman Asher Nolting scored the High Point University men’s lacrosse team’s final goal with 19.9 seconds to give the squad a dramatic 7-6 victory at Air Force on a snowy Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 4-1 four minutes into the second half, the Panthers (5-7, 5-1) leaned heavily on their senior class and star freshman to climb back into the game. Senior Connor Robinson scored twice and assisted on senior Peyton Garrett’s second goal to tie the Falcons (5-9, 3-3) at 4-all headed to the fourth.
From there, Nolting and senior Chris Young scored go-head goals at 11:32 and 2:35, respectively. However, Air Force answered both times equaling the score at 6-6 with 1:04 to play. Sophomore Davis Sampere shook off a hit from earlier in the fourth winning the ensuing face-off to give the High Point offense a chance to win.
Forty seconds into the possession, the Panthers got the ball to Nolting behind the cage and the freshman bullied his way around the goal to the keeper’s left side and buried a shot from a tough angle to make it 7-6.
Once again, Sampere stepped up winning the next face-off as Robinson scooped up the ball and ran out the clock.
“Watching this team this year has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” head coach Jon Torpey said. “Our staff could not be prouder of these young men and their resilience. Today was not our greatest overall effort, but we found a way to compete and win.”
While the offense came up with the late-game heroics, it was junior Tim Troutner Jr. and the defense that kept the Purple & White in the game. Despite winning the time of possession and taking 37 shots to HPU’s 27, Air Force could only muster 15 shots on goal against the Panthers’ defense. And even when the Falcons did get clean looks; Troutner was there to stop nine of their attempts including several on the doorstep.
Senior Terrell Sands forced a team-best two Air Force turnovers, but the biggest of the game came at the hands of sophomore Luke Cappetto. Tied 5-5 with six minutes to play HPU went on the man-down, but Cappetto quickly stripped the Falcons allowing HPU to run out the penalty and preserve the 5-5 tie.
On the other side, Robinson led the way with two goals and two assists becoming the third Panther to record a 30-goal season joining Dan Lomas (four times) and Matt Thistle (twice). Nolting extended his streak of scoring at least three points per game to a dozen with two goals and an assist to break Thistle’s single-season scoring record at HPU with 57 points on the year.
At his face-off spot, Sampere continued to prove he’s one of the best in the SoCon winning 10-of-17 while picking up two ground balls. The Raleigh native leaned heavily on his wings on the afternoon as freshmen Clayton Krol and Taylor Acra combined for six ground balls.
High Point converted both of its EMOs while the Panthers’ defense stopped Air Force’s only man-up attempt. Similarly, HPU earned a 16-15 margin in shots on goal and 22-19 edge on the ground.
Air Force scored first and held the Panthers without a goal for the whole first quarter for the first time since the season-opener at Duke. HPU didn’t get much more going against the Falcons in the second with Garrett’s first man-up goal of the day representing High Point only first-half goal as it trailed 2-1 at the break.
The Panthers continued with one goal 37:27 into the game before Robinson tallied the team’s first six-on-six marker of the contest. The senior then scored his second straight unassisted goal to make it 4-3 just four minutes later.
From there, Garrett and Nolting scored a goal apiece to make it a 4-0 run while Troutner and the defense held Air Force without a goal for a 19-minute span. That one-goal edge early in the fourth proved to be the difference as both teams scored twice in the final 7:13 capped by Nolting’s game-winner.
With the win, HPU clinches a spot in the Southern Conference Tournament held at Richmond on May 3 and May 5. The Panthers host Mercer on Saturday, April 28 in the regular season finale with a chance to claim at least a share of the SoCon title.