HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Panthers men’s lacrosse team starts it second year of competition by opening the 2014 season at Delaware on Saturday.
It will be a rematch of last year’s program opener when the Blue Hens narrowly escaped Vert Stadium with a 12-10 win over the Panthers in the two team’s first-ever meeting in High Point last year.
Captain and attackman Dan Lomas was recently named the Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year of the newly-formed Atlantic Sun Conference lacrosse league, and will help lead his team when it travels North to take on the Blue Hens under cold, early-February conditions once again.
Head coach Jon Torpey named his captains earlier in January – a group of five that included Lomas along with Bucky Smith, Garrett Swaim, Matt Thistle and Pat Farrell.
Smith and Swaim captained the Panthers in their inaugural season in 2013 and return to lead the Panthers for a second year with Lomas, Thistle and Farrell being added to the group by a vote of their teammates.
Smith, a redshirt-senior midfielder, played in all 15 games, tallying 13 points on nine goals and four assists as well as picking up seven ground balls.
Swaim anchored the HPU defense last year, starting all 15 games, and led the team with 18 caused turnovers while also claiming 37 ground balls.
The preseason recognition for Lomas was not surprising considering he was the team’s leading goal scorer last year, finishing with 35 goals and five assists, along with 31 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers.
Thistle, a sophomore attackman, led the team with 42 points overall last year – scoring 19 goals, tallying a team-high 23 assists, as well as picking up 37 ground balls.
Farrell, a junior, was another staple of the HPU defense in 2013, starting all 15 games and ranking second on the team with 14 caused turnovers.
Lomas was also selected to the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun team and was joined by Swaim and midfielder Mitchell Dupere in that group.
Dupere, a red-shirt sophomore, was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Conference team after finishing as HPU’s third-leading scorer last season, picking up 22 points on 15 goals and seven assists.
In sum, the Panthers begin the season returning 38 players, including nine starters, while welcoming 16 newcomers.
After facing off against the Blue Hens, the Panthers will travel to Towson (Feb. 8) before hosting their home opener on Feb. 15 against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks.
HPU beat Towson last year to record the first win in program history – an impressive early-season victory considering the Tigers went on to advance to the NCAA tournament.
The Panthers will begin Atlantic Sun play when they host league preseason-favorite Jacksonville on Mar. 1, and will look forward to a late-season featured matchup on their schedule when the preseason third-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels arrive in High Point on Apr. 18.