MACON, Ga. – Two months to the day after the two sides first met, the Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse team once again matched up with High Point in a game that went down to the wire. Just like the first time, a number of scoring runs proved to be the difference in the contest. Down four in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins staged a stunning comeback to set up some late drama, but couldn’t find the tying goal in the final minutes, falling to the Panthers, 12-11. Jacksonville ends the season at 4-9 while High Point improves to 9-6 and awaits the winner of Richmond/Mercer in Saturday’s Atlantic Sun Championship.
The opening minutes of the game showed all the makings of a defensive struggle. Dakota Rohlin was able to tie the game at 1-1 with 6:28 left in the first quarter, beating Austin Geisler over his shoulder as he drove hard to his left. Later on, Jacksonville held possession out of a timeout but committed a turnover and allowed the Panthers to go down and score with 4:03 remaining in the quarter, sparking a five-goal run that left Jacksonville in a 6-1 hole.
The Dolphins began to right the ship midway through the second quarter. Duncan Clancy fed Rohlin for a goal to end the scoring drought, then Clancy got on the board with a goal of his own. Starting from behind the cage and circling out left, Clancy spun on his defender and fired from 10 yards out past Geisler to make it 6-3 with 3:49 until the half.
Clancy continued to be at the center of the Jacksonville offense as the half ticked to a close. His pass to David Goldman set the senior middie up for a score with eight seconds left on the clock, making it 6-4 and giving JU plenty of momentum as the game neared halftime. That’s when High Point’s face-off dominance really began to take effect. Jamie Piluso was able to scoop the face-off cleanly on the restart and drove straight to the net, scoring with one second left and giving the Panthers a 7-4 edge at the break.
Undeterred by how the first half ended, Jacksonville’s Tom Moore opened the scoring in the third quarter by cutting straight down the heart of the High Point defense and receiving a pass in stride from Goldman for his first goal of the game. Rob Moore then got in on the act with 7:30 to go in the quarter, spinning past a helpless defender and putting one in unassisted to trim the deficit to 7-6. Tom Moore was then able to draw the Dolphins level, working past three HPU defenders on the right side of the defense to score with 3:45 left and forcing a Panther timeout.
When things were looking bleak for High Point, it was Piluso who time and time again earned possession for his team. Though Jacksonville had things going in the right direction and were looking to take its first lead of the game, the Panther face-off man controlled two draws before the end of the quarter and HPU was able to score on each, taking a 9-7 lead into the fourth.
The face-off edge continued to haunt Jacksonville in the final quarter, with High Point able to cash in a pair of goals to make it 11-7 before Quint Miller stopped the bleeding with a goal at the 9:24 mark, pump faking his way past Geisler after a pass from Rob Moore. The Panthers responded with a goal with 7:38 to go, and JU was flagged for a penalty on the play, seemingly setting High Point up for what could have been a back-breaking goal.
Instead, Joey Pfister took control of the face-off and a man-down goal from Tom Moore breathed new life into the Dolphins as the clock hit seven minutes to play. A turnover by High Point on the ensuing possession gave the ball back to Jacksonville and a nifty feed from Clancy gave Quint Miller a tight angle that he worked to cut the lead to 12-10.
The late rally continued as Rob Moore was given half a step and scored from the left side to once again bring JU within a single goal with 2:22 to play. High Point won the next face-off – the last of 20 face-off wins for them in the game – but immediately turned the ball over with Tom Moore intercepting the pass. Jacksonville held possession for the remainder of the game and sent four shots in on Geisler, but was unable to find a way past him.
Tom Moore ended the day with a hat trick, his fifth of the season. Rohlin, Quint Miller and Rob Moore each added two goals. Austin Curtis picked up four ground balls in the game and caused a pair of turnovers, while Pete DeLuca wrapped up his stellar JU career with 10 saves in goal.