HPU Downs Longwood to Advance to NLC Title Game

DAVIDSON, N.C. -- High Point took a 15-7 victory over Longwood in the NLC semifinals on Saturday afternoon in Davidson, N.C. The Panthers advanced to the championship game against Jacksonville on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

Alexis Goldman (Winter Springs, Fla./Winter Springs (St. Andrews Presbyterian)) and Grace Gaeng (Bel Air, Md./The John Carroll School (Maryland)) each scored four goals for HPU.

"There have been a lot of firsts this year this was our first time going to the conference tournament, yesterday was our first tournament win and today we advanced to the championship game for the first time," said HPU head coach Lyndsey Boswell. "We're thankful for every opportunity and really looking forward to the finals and a rematch with Jacksonville."

"Alexis was really focused and executed well today," Boswell added. "She came up big with draw controls, went hard to the cage and shot 100 percent. Grace did what she has done all season. Offensively, we executed and shot well. Everyone did their part and we had some huge helpers off the bench. Lauren was solid in the cage playing behind our defense, which was strong again."

The Panthers improved to 14-3 overall while Longwood finished its season at 10-8. The Lancers were two-time defending NLC champs. The Panthers earned the No. 2 seed entering the tournament with a 6-1 NLC record.

Along with her four goals, Gaeng added two assists for a game-high six points. Goldman grabbed five draw controls along with her four goals. Chelsea Thompson (Arnold, Md./Broadneck) scored three goals with two assists and freshman Mackenzie Carroll (Arnold, Md./Severn) had two goals and two assists. Defender Kelsey Kirby (Marriottsville, Md./Liberty High School) had five ground balls and two caused turnovers for the Panthers while goalie Lauren Hayes (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown (Connecticut)) made 11 saves.

For Longwood, Kesley Dean was the top scorer with two goals and an assist and Kathleen Battle grabbed five ground balls. Duan Wright had three draw controls, three ground balls and three caused turnovers. Goalie Juli Liebig made five saves for the Lancers.

Goldman got the Panthers out to a 4-1 lead when she scored three goals in a span of nine minutes. She scored the first goal of the game 7:03 into it followed by scores from Gaeng and Longwood's Sam Stifler. Goldman then netted goals at 15:17 and 16:08 to put HPU up by three. However, the Panthers couldn't put a significant gap on the Lancers until late in the first half.

With HPU leading 7-4, Sara Kuhlman (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) made a pass to Gaeng, who was able to split the defense and shoot the ball low left into the net with 6:18 left. Less than a minute later, Thompson scored on a free position shot when she took the ball from the left to center and shot it in.

HPU's Courtney McLaughlin (Apex, N.C./Apex (North Carolina)) won the ensuing draw control and took it into HPU's defensive zone, she passed it across to Jasmine Jordan (Baltimore, Md./Eastern Technical), who evaded a Longwood attacker and started a series of passes that finished when Heather Ziccarelli (Rochester, N.Y./Rush Henrietta (Monroe CC)) passed it to Thompson in front, Thompson made a spin move and shot it in to make it 10-4 Panthers with 4:58 left in the first half, HPU's third goal in a span of 1:30.

Longwood broke HPU's scoring run when Amanda Bereznay scored on a feed from Jamie Brientlinger with 4:36 left in the first, but the Panthers didn't give the momentum back. Dougherty scored 19 seconds later on a shot up the middle. In the final minute of the first half, Carroll found the back of the net for the second time on an assist from Gaeng.

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