New conference, familiar look for HPU women’s lacrosse
The conference is new this season for the High Point University women’s lacrosse team.
That will the major change for the Panthers, who will feature many of the same key players as they did last year in winning the regular-season championship in the now-defunct National Lacrosse Conference, a year after winning the NLC tournament title.
HPU is now in the Big South, which is sanctioning lacrosse for the first time, with eight teams that also include Big South regulars Longwood, Winthrop, Coastal Carolina, Presbyterian and Campbell along with associate member Davidson.
The league champion will have an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, something the NLC champ did not receive.
“We’re excited that we get to contribute to the Sasser Cup (for overall athletic excellence),” coach Lyndsey Boswell said. “And there is the chance to win an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which is certainly one of our goals.”
The goals don’t stop there for Boswell, the daughter of a veteran Mid-Atlantic short-track racer named Dickie Boswell, who competed in the 1980s on what is now NASCAR’s Nationwide circuit.
“We don’t want to just qualify for the NCAA tournament,” she said. “We want to win some games and who knows, make it to the Final Four. That is our big goal.
“Does that sound crazy? My dad told me that anything is possible. He competed against Dale Earnhardt at Charlotte and Daytona and all over. That was his goal, to race against Dale Earnhardt, and he did.”
She will certainly know if the Panthers are capable of doing that after a playing a tough nonconference schedule that includes top-five teams, North Carolina and Florida, and a top-20 program in Ohio State. The Panthers also face Denver, Oregon, Navy and Virginia Tech, and will be challenged to go 15-4 for the third straight season.
“In our games, you can beat anybody on any given day,” Bowsell said. “If we didn’t have a chance to compete on any given day, we wouldn’t put them on our schedule.”
The Panthers will be led offensively by the last two NCL players of the year – Mackenzie Carroll (2012) and Grace Gaeng (2011). Last season, Carroll scored 33 goals, and dished 38 assists. Gaeng scored 30 goals and had 37 assists.
Boswell is expecting Kendyl Gardner, Christie Dougherty, Sara Kuhlman and Alec Perry to also make key contributions. Garnder had 20 goals last season, Dougherty 31, Kuhlman 32 and Perry 21. Jasmine Jordan, who was a defender last season, will be an attacker this year.
“We will try to go as fast as we can as long as we can,” Boswell said. “That’s been our strength. We like to score a lot of goals. So, unless we run up against some defensives we’re not comfortable with, that’s what we will do. If we run up against defensives we’re not comfortable with, we’ll slow it down and get goals from a settled offense.”