HIGH POINT, N.C. – For 45 minutes on Saturday, the Jacksonville University men's lacrosse team produced the type of effort that was expected from the team picked to win the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Dolphins led High Point, 6-3, after three quarters and were 15 minutes away from picking up not only their first win of the year, but a vital win in the first conference game this season. Then things took a turn. Five unanswered goals in just over five minutes of action in the fourth quarter swung the game entirely and allowed High Point (3-2, 1-0 A-Sun) to come away with an 8-7 victory over JU (0-4, 0-1 A-Sun).
Little separated the two sides in the opening half. High Point would take three leads on Jacksonville, only for the Dolphins to come back with the tying goal. Rob Wertz knotted the game at 1-1 with his first goal of the season, and added his second in the second quarter to send the teams into the break all square at 3-3. Duncan Clancy also netted a goal, his fifth of the season, in the second quarter.
The third quarter belonged to JU. After Austin Curtis forced a turnover from the Panthers, Jacksonville got on the attack and took its first lead as Wertz completed his hat trick for a 4-3 lead. With Pete DeLuca acting as a brick wall in front of the Dolphin goal, Jacksonville extended to a 5-3 advantage off of a Tyler Black goal, then went up 6-3 as Clancy fed Chase Miller with 1:19 to go in the quarter.
Somehow the momentum shifted just in the nick of time for High Point. Dan Lomas scored his second goal of the game just over a minute into the quarter to make it 6-4. The Panthers then won the face-off and went right down to close to 6-5 after a Mitchell Dupere goal. Having given up two goals in less than two minutes, JU used a timeout and then won the ensuing face-off, only for a turnover to give the ball back to the Panthers. Lomas picked his spot again for his third goal of the day, tying the contest up at 6-6 with 12:07 remaining.
Unfortunately High Point wasn't done. The next two face-offs were also won by the Panthers and they converted each into goals, going up 8-6 with 9:48 to play. To their credit, the Dolphins regrouped, dug in and shut down High Point the rest of the way. Given possession back after a Panther turnover, JU got to within a goal as David Goldman scored his second of the season with 4:04 to go. The final minutes were a blur, with High Point turning it over three times, only for goalkeeper Austin Geisler to bail his team out with saves. Jacksonville had possession and a man-advantage with 34 seconds remaining, but the Dolphins failed to get a shot on frame with their last attacking opportunity.
DeLuca ended the afternoon with 18 saves, 17 of them in the first three quarters. Sam Rosengarden led the Dolphins with four ground balls, while Black added three.
Jacksonville returns home for its next two, first meeting Marquette on March 8 at 2 p.m. The Dolphins will have four non-conference games the rest of the month, before getting back into A-Sun play on April 5 with VMI.