HPU Men’s Lacrosse Clinches Share of SoCon Title, Bests Mercer 13-7

• Freshman Asher Nolting racked up a career-high five assists to go with two goals to become the first player in program and conference history with 30 goals and 30 assists in a season.
• All six High Point senior field players scored at least one goal led by two apiece from Jason Ashwood and Chris Young.
• HPU’s win gave the Panthers their first SoCon regular season title and was the seventh for the department this season – a High Point record.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s lacrosse team jumped on Mercer with an early 5-0 run to cruise to a 13-7 victory and secure a share of the regular season Southern Conference title on Saturday in Vert Stadium.

The Panthers (6-7, 6-1) honored their seniors pregame and then watched the group light up the scoreboard with all six field players scoring a goal. Altogether, the group tallied eight goals, an assist to go with five saves from keeper Zach Tuell.

The win over the Bears (4-10, 2-5) is HPU’s fifth straight, which ties for the second-longest streak in program history. It also gives the Panthers a share of their first SoCon regular season title along with Richmond. The Spiders will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s conference championship. HPU’s title is the seventh by a High Point team this season – the most in the department’s history.

High Point won its previous regular season title as a member of the Atlantic Sun in 2014.

“Our team has come a long way this season,” head coach Jon Torpey said. “If you look at where we were two months ago to where we are now there has been tremendous growth at every position. Today, I think the guys really wanted to send the senior class out on top and they did a great job of that. This is finals week and there are a lot of things that can distract you, but the team did a great job of being focused today and all week.”

Freshman Asher Nolting continued his record-setting ways tying a program-record with five assists to go with two goals. The huge offensive day made him the first player in program and SoCon history to register a 30-goal, 30-assist campaign. In the process, the Greenwood Village, Colo. native tied Air Force’s Chris Walsch for the single-season SoCon points record (64).

Defensively, senior Terrell Sands led the way racking up three caused turnovers, three ground balls and his first goal of the season. Joining Sands with three caused turnovers, sophomore Patrick Boppel recorded a new career high. Similarly, freshman Clayton Krol was credited with two forced miscues as the Panthers finished the day with 15 caused turnovers.

In the cage, junior Tim Troutner made eight stops while allowing just one goal while Tuell made the team’s over five saves.

The Panthers controlled possession on the afternoon going 16-of-24 on face-offs led by sophomore Davis Sampere’s 9-of-13 and junior Brandon Savoie’s 4-of-7. Late in the game the HPU freshmen Jack Cook and Bobby Stewart combined to go 3-of-3.

Joining Nolting with multiple points, senior Jason Ashwood finished his senior day with a season-high two goals and an assist as senior Chris Young tallied two goals. Rounding out the senior scorers, Peyton Garrett, Connor Robinson and Adam Dickson scored goals. Along with them, junior Griff Caligiuri and sophomores Dalton Sulver and Nick Walsh posted markers.

The face-off dominance allowed HPU to win the ground ball battle 32-24 and take 44 shots to Mercer’s 36 in the contest.

HPU started fast as Walsh scooped up the opening face-off and converted it into a 1-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game. From there, Nolting took over dishing out assists to Robinson, Ashwood, Garrett and Sulver to give HPU a 5-0 advantage with 1:32 left in the first. That 5-0 spurt included a two-man-down stand by Tuell and the High Point defense.

After Mercer got on the board at the end of the first, Young, Dickson and Ashwood all scored second-quarter goals as the Panthers took an 8-1 edge into the break.

In the second half, Nolting hooked up with Young who provided a behind-the-back finish to give HPU a 9-1 lead. Nolting, then, offset two Mercer goals with two of his own to reach the 30-goal, 30-assist mark and give HPU an 11-3 advantage.

Sands, then, become the sixth HPU senior to score with seven seconds left in the third. Following the Bears’ fourth goal, Caligiuri notched the Panthers’ second straight pole goal to up the lead to 13-4 with 12:50 to play.

Mercer tallied the final three goals of the game, but it wasn’t enough as HPU secured as share of the SoCon title with a 13-7 victory.

The Purple & White are now off to Richmond, Va. where they will play the No. 3-seeded Jacksonville on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m.