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High Point run sinks Tigers in NCAA tournament

By: Jesse Baird

Towson and High Point set and NCAA Tournament First Round record with 36 combined goals on Friday.

Olivia Conti made some more history on Friday. Already the first freshman to ever be named the CAA Defensive Player of the Year, she is now the owner of both the Towson and CAA single-season caused turnover record. But while she set the new record with 48 on the year, the Towson Tigers women’s lacrosse team’s season came to an end as they suffered a 21-15 loss to High Point in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

After an early exchange of goals at the University of Maryland’s Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex, Towson pushed ahead 5-2 midway through the fist half, but an eight-goal run by the Panthers put the Tigers down 10-5 at halftime. High Point then continued on to make it an overall 11-goal run to take an eight-goal lead in the second half.

“We couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Towson head coach Sonia LaMonica said. “They were finishing their shots well and we had trouble finding the ball. They simply outworked and out-competed us.”

Kaitlyn Montalbano scored two early goals and had another assists to put Towson up 5-2 with 12:42 left in the first quarter. But things took a turn for the worse after High Point’s Ashley Britton sparked the eight-goal run to end the first half. High Points three goals to open the second half happened inside the first eight minutes with Emory Gaeng capping things off.

While Towson trailed 13-5 with 22:45 left, the were not done fighting. Impressively, Towson cut their deficit down to two with a 7-1 scoring run. Emily Gillingham opened the run with a goal that was assisted by Natalie Sulmonte. Samantha Brookhart, Towson’s all-time assist leader, added three more to her totals while Carly Tellekamp, Sulmonte and Montalbano each scored two goals in the stretch.

However, High Point answered back with a five-goal run to take a 19-12 lead with 10:17 left to play.

Conti did spark one final push by Towson as she caused her 48th turnover to break Hillary Fratzke’s Tiger record from the 2008 season, which was shared as the CAA record with Hofstra’s Bridget Eder.

After that, Towson scored two quick goals, netted by Tellekamp and Brookhart. But High Point did not allow Towson to carry any sort of momentum as they scored two of the last three goals of the game to settle the final score at 21-15.

“We really pushed and kept battling,” LaMonica said. “We were able to score on transition but High Point responded well. You are going to have trouble when you give up 21 goals.”

Despite a strong second half and winning 14 of 22 draws taken, the Tigers were never able to recover from their first-half woes. High Point had a 10-6 draw control lead in the first half and ended up outshooting Towson 42-34.

“I felt like our Hofstra game. We didn’t have too much trouble scoring, we just had trouble stopping the bleeding defensively and it felt like that today,” LaMonica said.

On April 16, Towson suffered a 17-15 loss to the Pride. Towson started the game with a 4-0 lead but just couldn’t figure out a way to keep Hofstra from scoring after that. The 21 goals allowed were the most since they suffered a 22-5 loss to Syracuse.

Towson and High Points combined 36 goals set a first round NCAA Tournament record, previously set at 33 between Syracuse and North Carolina in 2012.

Brookhart and Montalbano each had six-point games and with Tellekamp they each had hat tricks.

High Point will move on to face No. 1 Maryland in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

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