HPU Panthers Win Fourth Consecutive Big South WLAX Title

Site: High Point, N.C. (Vert Stadium)
Score: High Point 20, Radford 7
Records: HPU 10-7 (6-0 Big South), RAD 6-12 (4-2 Big South)
Next HPU Event: May 14, 2021 — vs. TBD, NCAA Tournament

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University women’s lacrosse team won its fourth consecutive Big South Championship on Sunday afternoon (May 2) with a 20-7 victory over Radford University in the title game at Vert Stadium.

Not only is this HPU’s fourth tournament title in a row, it is also the Panthers’ fourth straight year winning both the tournament and the regular season. The Purple and White now have a total of 11 Big South Championships, with six tournament titles and five trophies from the regular season.

High Point won the championship in record-setting fashion as the 20 goals are the most any team has scored in a Big South title game. After setting the program record for most goals in a single season in the semifinal victory over Winthrop on Friday, Abby Hormes added to her total with six in the championship game – a Big South record for goals scored in a championship contest.

Hormes now has 75 goals on the year, the third-most in a single season in Big South history. She has 96 points in the campaign for the second-most in program history and third-most in conference history and now has 208 goals and 279 points in her career, the most in High Point history and second-most in Big South history in both categories.

“We were really excited to be here this weekend and to host the Big South Conference Tournament at High Point University,” head coach Lyndsey Boswell said after her team’s victory. “We were excited to be here and get the win. Our leaders did such a great job leading the way throughout the weekend and leading the way through some adversity, but we’re happy to get back to the NCAA Tournament.”

The Panthers also matched the Big South record for assists and points in a championship game as 13 of the 20 goals had helpers attached for a total of 33 points, two more than HPU had in the 2017 victory over Campbell. High Point also corralled 22 ground balls in the contest, led by three each from Brielle Prouty and Emma Genovese, to set a new benchmark for ground balls in a championship game, breaking the Panthers’ old record by two.

High Point didn’t get as clean of a start in the game as it would’ve liked and only led by one 10 minutes in. Hormes opened the scoring on the first possession of the game but Radford quickly tied it up 13 seconds later after winning the draw control and taking it straight to the cage. The Panthers retook the lead three minutes later after forcing a turnover in their defensive end and racing up the field.

HPU goalkeeper Jill Rall picked up the loose ball off the turnover and flung it to Prouty, who ran with it to the restraining line for the successful clear. Prouty found Kaely Kyle open near the eight-meter arc and Kyle ran in unguarded on the cage and picked the top right corner for High Point’s second goal of the game. Once again, the Highlanders had an early answer and leveled the score once more on a free-position goal just over eight minutes in.

The Panthers collected themselves after giving up the second goal and broke the game open with four goals in a five-minute span to take the lead for good. A save from Rall sparked a High Point counterattack a minute after surrendering the tying goal. HPU got its offense setup in the Radford zone and Rachel Foster found Kay Rosselli all alone in front of the cage and Rosselli made good on her chance to give the Panthers the lead.

Genovese put home a free-position attempt two minutes later to double the lead and Hormes picked up her second of the game on the next possession after the goal, starting it off with the ensuing draw control. The Panthers worked their offense deep into the shot clock and Kyle found Hormes at the eight-meter arc for a turn-around shot to just beat the shot clock and grow the lead even more. Kyle finally got one of her own for the next goal in the run, slicing and dicing her way through the Radford defense to give the Purple and White a four-goal lead midway through the first half.

Radford stopped the run two minutes later, and after five minutes of scoreless play – the longest stretch without a goal in the opening frame – High Point closed out the half with a 3-1 run in the final eight-and-a-half minutes. Foster connected from a free-position attempt for HPU’s seventh tally of the day and the Highlanders responded a minute later with their fourth and final goal of the half.

Foster picked up her second assist of the half after finding Katie Hormes cutting towards the cage for High Point’s penultimate goal of the stanza. Foster took a drop pass from the elder Hormes sister working around the top of the arc and found Katie darting towards the net for the goal. The Panthers added one more before the half ended when Nicole Pugh scored the most unusual goal of the contest. Pugh was working her way behind the cage with the ball and tried to find a teammate in front of the net but her pass bounced off a Radford defender and over the goal line to make it 9-4 heading into halftime.

High Point kept up the pressure early in the second half and scored six of the first seven goals of the latter frame to open a 10-score lead. For the second half in a row, Abby Hormes scored on the opening possession for the Panthers. Genovese won the draw control to give HPU possession and corralled a high pass in the offensive end before finding Hormes in a seam up the middle. Hormes caught the pass in-stride and ripped one into the net to get the Panthers into double digits.

Genovese scored her second of the day three minutes later, scoring on a diving shot in front of the crease. Mena Loescher peeled away from the crease with the ball and turned around to find Genovese cutting in front. Loescher hit her with the pass and Genovese was able to put the shot on target despite taking some heavy contact and falling hard to the turf.

Radford scored its first goal after halftime 40 seconds after Genovese’s tally but the Panthers ripped off the next four to lead by 10. Abby Hormes scored on her only free-position shot of the game just over six minutes into the half and Foster buried the next two for the hat-trick. Rall made a big stop on a free-position attempt and the Panthers used the speed of Katie Hormes to get into the offensive end and set up Foster’s goal on a nice feed from Kylie Holthaus. Foster’s third goal of the game came a minute later on a free-position attempt through the goalie’s five-hole after she was hit up high cutting to the cage.

Prouty got on the board with her only goal of the game three minutes later to give High Point a 10-goal lead and start the running clock. High Point lost possession on a shot clock violation but quickly forced a turnover when Rosselli got in the way of a Radford pass on the ensuing clear attempt. Loescher picked up the loose ball and fired it up to Abby Hormes, who drew the lone Highlander defender and found Prouty wide-open in front of the cage for the easy goal.

The clock didn’t stay running for long as Radford responded 13 seconds later, but a goal from Loescher just under halfway into the second put the Panthers up by double digits for good and sparked a 5-0 run for HPU. Loescher was behind the cage and rolled towards the crease when Foster found her with the pass. The Radford defense wasn’t able to collapse on the crease fast enough and Loescher got a quick shot away down low to get the clock running again.

Abby Hormes scored the next two for the Panthers, getting her to six to match her record. She did it herself on the first one and then took a high feed from behind the cage from Julia Nicastro 90 seconds later and emphatically slammed it home for the record-tying tally. Kyle completed her hat-trick with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game and the younger Hormes scored her second of the game with eight minutes on the clock for HPU’s record-setting 20th and final goal.

High Point will find out where it is headed for the 2021 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament First Round in the selection show next Sunday (May 9). The top three teams in the field of 29 receive first-round byes with the remaining 26 battling it out in the first round on May 14 at campus sites to be announced during the selection show.