JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – March Madness isn’t just for basketball. Fueled by a hard-nosed defense and highlighted by a decisive five-goal run in the second half, the Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse team upset No. 10 High Point, 12-10, in Southern Conference action for the Dolphins’ first-ever win over a ranked opponent, Saturday afternoon at D.B. Milne Field.
“We knew today was going to be an opportunity for us to do something we have never done before. All week, we talked about making history to be the first team to win against a top-10 program. The guys believed they could get the job done and that is what it took to make it a reality,” commented third-year head coach John Galloway following JU’s impressive upset victory.
Down 6-5 at halftime, Jacksonville (3-6, 2-0 SoCon) got an immediate spark from redshirt-junior and captain Evan Tyler just 37 seconds into the third quarter to deadlock the game at 6 apiece. Though the Panthers (7-2, 1-1 SoCon) saw one final lead of the game on a Chris Young tally at 12:11, the Dolphins never back down.
Sophomore Jack Dolan sandwiched a pair of goals around a Tyler mark at 11:05 and 5:53, and it was Tyler who assisted on the quarter’s final tally – an Eric Applegate shot right in front of the crease – with 18 seconds remaining.
With key goals in the first and fourth quarters, freshman Brendan McKenna dodged from X, beat his defender, and capped the Dolphins’ five-goal run with a slick shot past High Point goalie Tim Troutner with 8:57 left in the game for an 11-7 JU advantage.
Though the visitors worked to find a rally with back-to-back goals from Ben Baker (6:54) and Asher Nolting (5:25), Dolan sealed the win with his 20th goal of the season and fourth of the day with 3:48 remaining. Despite a barrage of shots in the final 17 seconds, Nolting – who leads the SoCon and ranks sixth nationally in points per game with 5.50 – managed just his second goal of the day for the final 12-10 score.
Added Galloway, “Hunter Sells was absolutely fantastic in the net, making the saves to keep High Point from making a run. Our offense was led by Jack Dolan, Eric Applegate, and Evan Tyler, who have created an identity of fun offensive lacrosse. I am so proud of Brendan McKenna for bouncing back after a few tough weeks to also score two big goals.” Dolan finished the day with five points (4 goals, 1 assist), while Applegate (3g), Tyler (2g, 2a), and McKenna (2g) combined for nine points.
With saves in crucial moments – including a point-blank shot on the doorstep in the third quarter – Sells posted a four saves in the second half for seven total. The Bethesda, Md. native had All-American help from his defense, as the sophomore-freshmen mix of close defenders Dixon Smith (3 GBs, 3 CTs), Jordan Young (5 GBs, 4 CTs), and Jack Heed (1 GB, 5 CTs) combined for nine ground balls and caused 12 of the Panthers’ 27 turnovers. Jacksonville’s D held High Point’s high-octane offense scoreless for 18 minutes and five seconds in the second half and allowed just four Panther shots in the third quarter.
“This team is a blast to work with, especially because of the guys on the sideline who go through hell all week to get our starters ready. Michael Dean was our player of the week, acting as Asher Nolting all week. He was an integral part to helping us keep a high-powered offense to 10 goals,” complimented Galloway. “Now we have to learn how to handle wins with maturity as we prep for a huge road game against Air Force. We will be back to work on Monday.”
The Dolphins head to Colorado next Saturday, March 30 to take on rising SoCon rival Air Force at noon.