(3) High Point v. (1) Richmond
Richmond now knows a season without an NCAA Tournament invitation and High Point has booked a ticket for its first trip to The Show following a 9-8 double overtime victory in the final of the inaugural Southern Conference Tournament. Sean Harrison took a feed from Brad James and scored his first goal of the game with 1:13 remaining in the second extra session to push the Panthers past the Spiders. Richmond's excellent 2015 season ends with an 11-5 record and elevated hopes for next spring. High Point is likely destined for a play-in game appearance this coming week where the Panthers will attempt to ride its momentum into the bracket-proper.
Richmond appeared poised to raise their second league tournament trophy after Jean-Luc Chetner -- that name should come with a glass of Grand Marnier -- put the Spiders up 8-5 with 10:01 to play. Richmond had not trailed the Panthers since the team went up 3-2 on High Point early in the third period when Mitch Goldberg broke a 2-2 halftime deadlock. The Panthers had challenged Richmond up to Chetner's score, but could not seem to pull square with the tournament hosts. High Point's nuclear-powered offense, though, would not be denied.
Three straight goals from the Panthers in a 6:37 stretch late in the final stanza brought High Point level with Richmond at eight. The final goal in the rush -- a Cole Carns tally that started in Michael LeClair's crosse -- came with only 46 seconds remaining in regulation to create the tie and force regulation. Carns may not have had the chance to help change High Point's future had J.P. Forester not taken a questionable shot that Austin Geisler chewed up with 1:38 left on the clock. Richmond had just killed a High Point offensive possession prior to Forester's shot and the Spiders had burned only five seconds off the clock once the bean had been officially cleared into the Richmond's green zone.
The teams each had two possessions in the first overtime and were unable to generate any legitimate heat over the period's four minutes: Richmond had its first opportunity ended in a turnover and the second possession killed in a shot clock violation; High Point's first opportunity died on a turnover and the Panthers' second possession only totaled 23 seconds. The second overtime was more hectic: The Panthers opened the session with a Dan Lomas shot that Benny Pugh turned away, the ensuing offensive possession for the Spiders stopped on a Geisler save. High Point's proceeding opportunity was the last of the game and the button that sent the Panthers to a May adventure.
Lomas finished his afternoon with four goals on five shots, throwing around an assist for good measure. Geisler had an impressive 15 saves for High Point. Goldberg had four goals for Richmond while Pugh earned nine saves in the loss.