#15 HPU MLAX Comeback Falls Just Short Against #2 Tar Heels

Site: High Point, N.C. (Vert Stadium)
Score: #2 North Carolina 17, #15 High Point 15
Records: #15 High Point (1-1), #2 North Carolina (3-0)
Next HPU Event: Saturday, February 27th, — at #2 North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The No. 15 High Point University men’s lacrosse team (1-1) dropped a heart breaker to No. 2 North Carolina (3-0) 17-15. Senior Asher Nolting tied his career-high in points with nine as he scored four goals and had five assists. Freshman Brayden Mayea led the Panthers in scoring as he had five on the day. Mayea embraced the spotlight against the #2 Tar Heels as the Freshman provided plenty of highlights in the nationally televised game. Kevin Rogers continues to impress as the graduate transfer scored three goals and added two assists for five points. Antonio Arcona had an outstanding day for the Purple & White in the cage as he made a career-high 17 saves against the Tar Heels. Arcona and the Panther defense saw UNC’s season-high in shots today (Feb. 16) with a total of 67.

“There were times in the game where I felt like we let certain things get away from us but overall loved the effort, the energy, the fight, coming back after being down 15-7, down eight goals, and bringing it to two”, Coach Jon Torpey said. “I thought in the first quarter we played excellent, third quarter we did a good job, the second quarter man we cannot do that. We gave up runs in the second quarter, we gave them opportunities to have the ball on offense. we weren’t really finding answers at the face-off x all day. Definitely some things to clean up but I love coaching this team, I love our staff, I love the fight that these guys show every day. In a year where we are asking these guys to sacrifice and be adaptable, not even knowing if we were playing this game yesterday at 8:00 PM it’s a pretty special group.”

The Panthers wasted no time in getting their offense going as Jack Vanoverbeke scored 33 seconds into the contest. The freshman scored the first goal of his collegiate career and the game. Vanoverbeke put HPU up one early in the first. Vanoverbeke’s goal came off of a feed from midfield from Rogers. High Point shared the wealth in the first quarter as they had five different goal scorers in the quarter. With 12:17 to play in the first and the score at 1-1, the HPU ride was on full display as the Panthers collapsed on the ball and were able to force a turnover Dalton Sulver picked up the ground ball and moved it to Rogers who scored on the breakaway to put HPU up 2-1. Sulver and Nolting added two more for High Point in the first and got the Panther lead up to three. UNC answered with two goals. Then to end the quarter Nolting found Mayea who finished with 31 seconds remaining in the first and put HPU up 5-3 giving High Point the momentum heading into the second quarter. Arcona had a monster first quarter making eight tremendous saves against one of the most lethal offenses in the country.

After a strong start, the Panthers were only able to score two goals in the second as Rogers and Devon Buckshot found the back of the net for the Purple and White. UNC took a 10-7 lead into the break as they used an eight-goal second quarter to take the lead.

In the third, the Panthers would answer. The Tar Heel lead grew to as large as eight as North Carolina led 15-7 with 11:23 to go in the third. HPU made their move two minutes later. Nolting got the offense going again as he scored to make it 15-8. Rogers added another which came off of a feed from Nolting bring the score to 15-9. Mayea would get red hot late in the third. Both Rogers and Nolting found the freshman who was able to finish both goals which made the score 15-11 with 3:15 to play in the third. Nolting dialed up a big play with 2:00 to go in the third as he rolled from x, wrapped around the goal, and bounced one in to make it a three-goal game, 15-12. With just seconds left in third Nolting dished it to Mayea who scored with three seconds remaining in the quarter to make it a two-goal game. The Panthers scored six unanswered goals to end the third.

UNC scored two big goals in the fourth in the first three minutes of the quarter to go up 17-13. The Panthers made a late push and almost completed the comeback but there was just not enough time. Nolting scored off a breakaway with a beautiful SportsCenter top-10 worthy backhand goal with a sliding hockey celebration to boot that brought the score to 17-14 with 4:05 to go. With 1:39 to play Colin Clothier was able to win the ball back from UNC as he threw a gorgeous check that connected cleanly with the stick of a Tar Heel and knocked the ball loose. Clothier scooped it up and got it down to the offense where Nolting found a cutting Mayea and Mayea scored for his team-leading fifth of the day. Mayea’s goal brought the score down to 17-15 with a minute remaining.

The Panthers put forth yet another impressive showing on national television against a top-five opponent. This game marked Carolina’s smallest margin of victory this season by far of two points. The Tar Heels’ other game against a ranked opponent was against #5 Denver where they won 24-13.

UP NEXT: The Panthers will again travel to Chapel Hill to face #2 North Carolina on Saturday, February 27th.