• Sophomore Cole Carns led the Panthers with a career-high four goals.
• Redshirt-senior Austin Geisler made 18 saves in goal and added four ground balls.
• High Point will travel to take on No. 6 North Carolina on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s lacrosse team took No. 3 Duke to the brink, but fell 16-13 in a packed Vert Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The two-time defending national champions Blue Devils (1-0) scored five straight goals after the game was tied at 7-7 half. However, the Panthers (1-1) clawed back with a 5-1 run to knot the score 13-13 with 10:19 left to play. But a 3-0 run in the final three minutes allowed Duke to pull out the victory.
“I’m really proud of our team’s effort today,” head coach Jon Torpey said. “We were down multiple times throughout the game against an unbelievably talented team. We didn’t execute as well as we needed to at times, but all in all it was a great team effort.”
The Purple & White offense posted 21 points led by sophomore Michael LeClair with six points (2g, 4a). Junior Matt Thistle dished out four assists while sophomore Cole Carns upped his career high in goals to four.
Redshirt-senior Austin Geisler had a solid performance in goal with 18 saves and four ground balls. Senior Pat Farrell led the defense with three caused turnovers while junior Zack Price caused two.
HPU was nearly flawless in their man-up attack scoring on 4-of-5 opportunities with junior Dan Lomas adding all three of his goals in man-up situations. Junior Tyler Cook chipped in with two goals and freshman T Moyer tallied his first career goal and assist.
Freshman Connor Robinson rounded out the scoring with his first career goal. Redshirt-juniors Brad James and Harris Levine each registered one assist.
“I can’t say enough about our guys,” Torpey added. “I love the fight that our team has and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys”
Junior Jamie Piluso went 13-of-33 (39 percent) on face-offs and had a team-high six ground balls. The Blue Devils won the ground ball battle 38-24 and earned a 47-28 advantage in shots. HPU kept the game close with 75 percent of their shots being on the goal.
Duke struck first with a goal by Chad Cohan 50 seconds into the game. The Blue Devils added two goals in 50 seconds to earn a 3-0 advantage with 6:21 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers responded when Thistle found LeClair for a goal to make it 3-1 with 4:39 remaining in the opening quarter. Duke built its lead back up to three (4-1) before LeClair found Cook for a goal with 34 seconds on the clock. However, the Blue Devils were able to add a goal in the closing seconds to wrap up the opening quarter with a 5-2 advantage.
Duke opened the scoring in the second quarter as Case Matheis made it 6-2 with 14:05 on the clock. The Panthers stormed back with three straight goals by Robinson, Carns and LeClair to cut the lead to one at 6-5 with eight minutes left in the half.
Guterding had the answer 90 seconds later for the Blue Devils to make it 7-5. But the Panthers fought right back and Moyer’s first career goal on an assist by Thistle made it a 7-6 game (4:41).
Moments later James found Lomas for the game-tying goal with 4:12 on the clock. Neither team was able to score in the final four minutes and the game went to the half tied 7-7.
After the break, Duke came out on fire and scored five unanswered goals in the first nine minutes of the third quarter to build a 15-7 lead with 6:05 on the clock. LeClair found Carns for a goal to halt the Blue Devils’ run at the 3:22 mark and cut the deficit to 12-8.
Lomas added his second man-up goal to make it 12-9 before Carns pulled the Panthers within two with his third goal of the contest at 12-10 (1:57).
Myles Jones stopped the HPU run with a goal at the 1:19 mark to send the game to the fourth quarter with Duke up 13-10.
Thistle connected with Lomas to score the first goal of the fourth quarter and bring the Panthers back within two goals at 13-11 with 14:38 to play. HPU, then, got it down to one as LeClair found Cook with 12 minutes on the clock.
Carns pulled the Panthers back into a tie at 13-13 with his fourth goal of the game (10:19). But Jones had the response for Duke and sparked a 3-0 run to close the game and earn a 16-13 victory.
The game took place in front of a crowd of 1,892, the largest of the year at Vert Stadium.
High Point will take their first road trip of the season when they head to Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on No. 6 North Carolina on Tuesday at 4 p.m.