HPU WLAX Opens Season with 18-11 Victory over Mercer

Site: High Point, N.C. (Vert Stadium)
Score: High Point 18, Mercer 11
Records: #25 HPU (1-0, 0-0 Big South), Mercer (0-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next HPU Event: Friday, Feb. 14 — vs No. 1 North Carolina (Vert Stadium), 6 p.m.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The No. 25-ranked High Point University women’s lacrosse team opened the 2020 season with a home win against Mercer on Thursday (Feb. 7) evening. Ashley Britton led the way for the Panthers, matching a career-high with five goals.

High Point scored its first goal of the season after Britton tucked a ball in the bottom corner of the net on a free position shot. The senior’s goal was the first of a Panther flurry, Sabrina Schrader and Jenna Harms also scored giving HPU an early 3-1 lead.

After a slow start, Mercer stormed back and scored with two goals of its own. They did not let up as HPU’s defense withstood a myriad of Mercer’s attempts at goal. Just as it looked like the Bears were about to break the seal, a turnover put the Panthers back on the attack with Britton answering back for HPU and putting the score at 4-2. The Bears were able to gain possession on the next draw but the combination of Meredith Chapman and Hayley Norris proved to be too much. As Mercer attacker Haily Rhatigan entered HPU’s side of the field Chapman lunged and caused a turnover with a stick check while Norris came scooped up the ground ball to give the High Point possession.

After the stop the Panther offense went to work, stringing together passes around the net looking for an opportunity. Britton saw her opportunity and took it, putting a dazzling move on her defender to get free and ripped a shot that found the back of the net. The Panthers then went on to take a commanding 8-3 lead thanks to two goals from Britton and one each from Nicole Pugh and Rachel Foster. The Bears would rally, cutting the five-point High Point lead to just two. Both teams struggled offensively down the stretch of the first period, not able to connect on a multitude of opportunities. It was sophomore attacker Emma Genovese who would add one more to the High Point tally, sending the Panthers into the half with a 9-6 lead.

HPU came out of the half energized and aggressive, Big South Preseason Player of the Year Abby Hormes scooped up a ground ball and drove hard to the cage for her first goal of the season. Hormes’ goal sparked another Panther run, this time it was Britton and Pugh helping the High Point case, pushing the lead out to 12-6.

A string of High Point mistakes proved to be dearly as Mercer scored two goals in a four-minute span. First a foul by Norris gave Mercer a free position shot that they converted. Then Mercer’s Eva Thorn scored off of a High Point turnover, bringing the score to 12-8.

As the half progressed, Mercer continued to pull the game within reach but High Point found a way to give themselves breathing room every time, something Head Coach Lyndsey Boswell spoke on after the game:

“Mercer did a good job of forcing some turnovers and getting us on our heels. Our girls responded well. I was really proud of the leadership they showed. Our upperclassmen in each part of the field did a great job of leading the way and we’re excited to get the win.”

A Foster goal started a 5-2 scoring run that all but sealed the victory for HPU. The games’ last moments saw Mercer sneak in three goals to bring the Bears total to 11, but that Panthers would hold on to for an 18-11 final.

High Point returns to Vert Stadium on Friday (Feb. 14) when it hosts No. 1-ranked North Carolina at 6 p.m.