HPU women’s soccer advances to Big South final | Newsletters

HPU women’s soccer advances to Big South final | Newsletters

HIGH POINT — High Point University will once again play for the conference tournament title.

The second-seeded Panthers took the lead midway through the first half, tacked on two second-half goals and rolled past third-seeded Longwood 3-0 on Thursday at Vert Stadium in the semifinals of the Big South Conference women’s soccer tournament.

“I think we played really well,” High Point coach Brandi Fontaine said. “We had a plan coming in and I think we executed it exactly how we wanted to. In the first half, I felt like we were flawless. It was exactly what we wanted to do.

“We changed some things up a little from our tactics coming into the game, just thinking what they were going to bring in. And I’m really proud of the girls for being able to execute that.”

Magdalena Schwarz, Chloe Le Franc and Salome Prat each scored for the Panthers (9-7-2), who have reached the tournament final eight times in the last 15 years — including in last season’s spring season.

Emily Mashinski had two assists while London Lewis and Morgan Hairston — a former East Forsyth standout — each had one assist as High Point advanced to face either top-seeded Campbell or fourth-seeded Radford on Sunday.

“It feels phenomenal,” Fontaine said. “We always expect to be here. We want to be here every year. So, for us, it’s another game. It’s a big game, but we expect to be here and we want to be here.”

The Panthers, who struggled at times during a challenging first half of their schedule but regrouped well in conference play, grabbed the lead in the 23rd minute when Schwarz took a chip pass near the goal and scored.

That 1-0 lead held into halftime.

“They were double-teaming Skyler (Prillaman). They were worried about her, but who’s not?” Fontaine said with a laugh. “So, when they double-teamed her, we just had to figure out how to get back around and find players like Magdalenda and Emily and we started figuring that out.

“It was huge (to score early). In the earlier game this season, we got one even earlier. So, this time we were able to get a breath in. We were knocking at the door, so it was good to see one finally fall. We knew that once we got one that we felt pretty confident going the rest of the way.”

In the second half, Le Franc scored in the 74th minute when the Longwood keeper deflected a long ball and Le Franc booted in the rebound.

Prat followed in the 78th minute when she ran up the left, stepped to the middle and fired.

“We’ve struggled in the second half at times this year,” Fontaine said. “I think the biggest thing was just coming out and doing what we did in the first half but better. We changed some things a little bit. Once we scored the second goal, they changed their tactics a little. Then we just went a little more defensive.

“But it was good in the second to get some minutes for some other players in preparation for Sunday.”

Hairston made four saves in goal in the fifth shutout of the season for High Point, which finished with a 20-8 advantage in shots over Longwood (7-8-4) — which had a couple good looks while the score was still within reach.

“It was great for us defensively,” Fontaine said. “We’ve worked so much in the last week on our defensive transition — that’s where we’ve struggled. So we worked on that and not kind of pressing and pressing in general, and we couldn’t have asked for better from the group. We felt like they showed up today.”

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