VILLANOVA, Pa. – The High Point University women’s lacrosse team put on a defensive showcase through overtime session after overtime session but could not put a final goal through the net as Villanova hung on for an 11-10, triple overtime win Saturday inside Villanova Stadium.
The Wildcats led 10-9 with less than two minutes to play, but a clutch goal from junior Emily Meier sent the game into overtime. After three stellar defensive overtime sessions by High Point, Villanova posted a goal with 1:26 remaining to escape with the victory.
“I thought this was a well fought game by both teams today,” head coach Lyndsey Boswell said. “Villanova is a good team and we knew we’d have to play one of our best games to win today. I thought we did that. We competed for 60 minutes and that’s what it took to get the game into three overtimes. Unfortunately we didn’t come up with the win but I was excited to see how hard we can work for such an extended period of time.”
The two teams were evenly matched throughout the contest, as evidenced by the stat sheet. Villanova and High Point each picked up 16 ground balls on the day, while the Panthers held a 17-15 edge in draw controls and were a solid 4-of-9 (.444) on free position attempts. The Wildcats held the edge in shots (35-25) and were +3 (13-16) in turnover margin.
Meier led the Panthers with a career-best four goals and registered two draw controls on the day. All six of the junior’s shots were on goal against the Wildcats. Senior Kendyl Gardner and freshman Erica Perrotta each tallied two goals on the day while junior Leah Pace added two goals, two ground balls and three draw controls.
Junior Allie Foard tallied a pair of assists and grabbed two ground balls and two draw controls. Junior Kristina Renner picked up a game-high four ground balls and caused two turnovers.
Senior goalkeeper Julia Burns made big saves throughout the overtime sessions and finished with 10 on the day. She allowed 11 goals in an extended 76:34 of action.
After a scoreless first five minutes of action, Meier scored off the free position to give HPU a 1-0 lead. From there, 10 more minutes of scoreless action followed before Perrotta struck for the Panthers off an assist from Foard to increase the lead to 2-0. At the 9:38 mark, Pace scored off the free position to make it 3-0, but the Wildcats responded with a 3-0 run over the next six minutes to knot the score at 3-3.
At the 2:51 mark of the half, Gardner scored off the free position to put HPU back up 4-3, then Perrotta tallied another just 30 seconds later to extend the advantage to 5-3. HPU held the two-goal advantage at the break.
Villanova posted the first two goals of the second half to tie the score at 5-5 at the 27:52 mark, but Meier exploded for two scores over the next five minutes to push the Panthers back in front 7-5. Gardner scored to complete a 3-0 run and extend the lead to 8-5 with 20:54 to go.
At that point, Villanova raced back with a 4-0 run to take a 9-8 lead with 10:03 to play. Perrotta registered her second goal of the game to tie the score back up at 9-9, but Villanova’s Jackie Froccaro scored her sixth goal with 5:49 remaining in the contest.
The Wildcats held the one-goal lead with less than two minutes to play, but Meier came up big with 1:11 to go, scoring from the free position to tie the score at 10. Villanova could not score on its final possession and the game was sent into overtime.
Pace won the first draw control of the overtime session and HPU had two good looks at the cage, but shots from Meier and Foard were saved. Burns made a critical save at the end of the first half of overtime No. 1 to keep HPU in the contest and the Panthers had a final possession but could not score.
Foard had a pair of solid shot attempts saved in the second overtime and Burns got it done on the other end with a crucial save that extended the game into the third overtime. Gardner had a shot saved in the third overtime and after that, the Wildcats put forth the game winner with less than two minutes to go in the period.
The game is just the second overtime contest played in the five-year history of the HPU women’s lacrosse program. The 3OT marathon is the longest game the team has ever played.
HPU now has a two-week break before opening conference play on April 4 at Gardner-Webb. First draw is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in Boiling Springs, N.C.