LEXINGTON, Va. – The High Point University men's lacrosse team began Southern Conference play with an 11-5 triumph over VMI in Lexington, Virginia, on Friday night.
The Panthers (3-5, 1-0) used two separate first-half runs to build an 8-3 halftime lead they wouldn't relinquish. On the other end, the Keydets move to 1-5 overall and fall to 0-2 in SoCon action.
"It was great to see so many different guys step up tonight," head coach Jon Torpey said. "With the injuries we had on both sides of the ball, we decided to play some zone tonight and really try to create some opportunities off the ride. We are looking forward to getting some guys back off the IR this week so that we can continue to get back to playing HPU lacrosse."
The Panthers featured a balanced offensive attack as four different Panthers scored multiple goals and eight players registered at least a point. On the defensive end, HPU forced nine turnovers while sophomore Tim Troutner Jr. made 11 stops and picked up six ground balls from his goalie spot.
The Keydets (1-5, 0-2) were unable to recover from a 5-2 disadvantage in the opening quarter that increased to 8-3 by the half. Despite outshooting the Panthers by a 26-10 ratio in the second half, VMI could not recover as High Point went on to claim the victory.
Leading the way offensively for HPU, junior Connor Robinson tallied two goals to produce his fourth multi-goal outing of the year. Likewise, senior Cole Carns and junior Chris Young both notched two goals on the day.
Rounding out the offense, High Point junior Peyton Garrett netted a goal and freshman Mitchel Snyder dished out an assist. Meanwhile, senior Sean Harrison (1g) and junior Jason Ashwood (1a) continued their streaks of scoring in every game this season. Joining that trio, High Point freshman Dalton Sulver recorded the first multi-point outing of his career with two goals while senior Nick Basile added a goal and an assist.
Wesley Sanders led VMI with 15 shot attempts on the night as the Keydets outpaced the Panthers in the shots category, 40-35.
Early in the game, VMI sophomore defender Kyle Walsh tied the game at one apiece with an unassisted goal, but the Panthers would score four straight goals to go up, 5-1. VMI senior attack Chris Spada put one in just before the second quarter to trim the lead to 5-2.
High Point continued to attack the Keydet net and put three more in during the second quarter before VMI's Wesley Sanders was able to answer with 1:56 before the half as the Panthers went into the intermission with an 8-3 lead.
Spada scored his 11th goal of the year early in the third period and freshman John Daniel added another midway through the fourth quarter, but the Panther lead proved insurmountable.
A center 'X,' High Point's Brandon Savoie set new career highs with nine face-off wins and five ground balls on the night.
Despite earning a 29-24 edge on the ground, VMI took 40 shots compared to the Panthers' 35 attempts. Similarly, High Point was more efficient in the clear game going 19-for-19 while breaking four of the Keydets' clearing attempts.
Carns opened the scoring with a goal at the 9:23 mark of the first quarter. Then, after VMI evened the score, Robinson, Young, Sulver and Harrison all scored over the next six minutes as the Panthers built a 5-1 advantage.
Two minutes later, the Keydets stopped the run with a goal in the final minute of the opening frame. However, HPU answered with another run as Basile scored before Carns and Young each tallied their second goals of the contest to make it 8-2 late in the second.
But again, VMI responded scoring the next two to get back to within four at 8-4 with 9:08 left in the third. Neither team scored over the next five minutes before Robinson netted his second tally and Garrett followed nine minutes later to put HPU up 10-4 with 10:48 to play.
From there, the Keydets scored again to cut the deficit to five. But HPU bounced back as Sulver became the fourth multi-goal scorer at the 2:50 mark to provide the 11-5 final score.
The Panthers return to action on Saturday, March 25 at noon to take on No. 19 Richmond in Vert Stadium.
VMI returns to action next Saturday, March 25, as the Keydets travel to Louisville, Kentucky, to take on SoCon opponent Bellarmine. The first faceoff is slated for a 1 p.m. start.