Blogs and Commentary

 
posted 02.01.2013 at 3.11 p.m. by Corey McLaughlin

High Point Set to Debut Against Delaware

High Point's NCAA Division I men's program debuts Saturday against Delaware.
© Kevin P. Tucker

It's another sign of the times — and growth of Southern lacrosse — that a pair of Division I games will be played this weekend before opening kickoff of the Super Bowl.

High Point makes its long awaited Division I men's debut, when it hosts Delaware at 1 p.m. Saturday at Vert Stadium in North Carolina.

The Jacksonville women will play their second game of the season (the Dolphins hosted Syracuse on Jan. 13, and lost 21-8) at noon Sunday against Vanderbilt in Florida.

For High Point, it's been a long time coming for its first game. Jon Torpey was hired as the Panthers first head coach in November 2010, more than two years ago.

As Lacrosse Magazine's Matt Forman wrote in November, as part of an extensive Q-and-A with Torpey, High Point has gone all-in on lacrosse as part of a $2.1 billion growth plan. The Panthers have a full-funded allotment of scholarships, a max-staffed group of coaches, a new 1,100-seat stadium, and a $6.8 million sport-specific facilities project on the way.

We'll see the first fruits of that labor on Saturday against a Delaware program that has played lacrosse since 1948.

High Point's roster is 40 players deep and features 38 freshman and sophomores. The two upperclassmen on the roster are junior captains Bucky Smith and Garrett Swaim. Smith transferred to High Point from the Navy while Swaim joined the Panthers after two seasons with Jacksonville.

The Panthers also have a transfer from Virginia in goalie Austin Geisler, who arrived in January.

Delaware coach Bob Shillinglaw, on the other end of the experience spectrum, has coached the Blue Hens for 38 years, although the Blue Hens also have relatively young roster, with 33 of its 46 players either freshman or sophomores. Senior Eric Smith, after missing 2012 with injury, will lead the attack.

U.S. under-19 faceoff guy Tyler Barbarich is the starter for the Blue Hens at the X with Mike Brailovsky the backup after Jackson Keeler, son of former Delaware coach KC Keeler and the number two faceoff man heading into the season, has left the team, a Delaware spokesperson confirmed to LM's Kevin P. Tucker.