OAC Championship Preview: #2 Otterbein vs. #1 Capital

OAC Championship Preview: #2 Otterbein vs. #1 Capital

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The Capital University men's lacrosse team is preparing to make history. The Crusaders serve as the top seed in the 2015 Ohio Athletic Conference Men's Lacrosse Tournament and vie for their first tournament title when they host No. 2-seed Otterbein University for the second time this season. The Crusaders and Cardinals will face off for the championship at 5:30 p.m. at Bernlohr Field.

PREVIEWING THE #1 CAPITAL CRUSADERS (14-2, 6-0 OAC)

Brent Walton
Sophomore, Midfield 

The Capital Crusaders are in the midst of a magical season, winning the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season championship, outright, in just the second year of the program's existence. With their unblemished 6-0 conference record, they retained the number-one overall seed in the OAC Men's Lacrosse Tournament, having competed in and won their first postseason contest and now vie for the OAC Tournament Championship. They are currently on an nine-match winning streak, a new program best and their last four games have been true tests of endurance for the tournament.

In Capital's most recent affair, they defeated John Carroll for the second time this season by two goals, 8-6. After taking a 6-1 lead into halftime, the Blue Streaks rallied to make it 7-6 with 8:37 to go. Sophomore Brent Walton stepped up and scored the Crusaders' final goal with 2:18 to go before freshman goalkeeper Cole Palmby and the Capital defense kept JCU off of the board to clinch the win. Walton finished with two goals and two assists, and Palmby with 16 saves.

Freshman sensation Brennan O'Callaghan has led the club since debuting in the lineup in the third game of the season. O'Callaghan leads the league with 61 goals and 72 points. He has also scored the eighth-most man-up goals (5) this season and entered the week #1 in the country in goals per game (4.62) and #4 in points per game. He and sophomore Brent Walton, who also debuted the season against Oberlin, have created a tandem that accounts for 91 of the team's 190 goals and 30 of their 102 assists. Freshman Carson Paull is on a tear, having scored nine goals in his last four games and at least one in his last six games.

Between the pipes, freshman Cole Palmby has been doing a job keep the ball out of the net, saving 60.0 percent of shots taken against him and allowing an average of 6.44 goals per game. Both of those marks rank him second in the OAC. Freshman LSM Nick Bonsignore leads the defense with 47 ground balls, while 2014 All-OAC selection Tate Stover leads the team and league with 35 caused turnovers.

 

PREVIEWING THE #2 OTTERBEIN CARDINALS (12-4 overall, 5-1 OAC)

Mike Sullivan

The Otterbein Cardinals will return to Bernlohr Stadium for a second time this season, this time as the No. 2 seed in the OAC Tournament. They seek their second OAC Tournament championship in as many years after defeated John Carroll in last year's title tilt. They defeated Baldwin Wallace for the second time in 11 days, 11-8, to advance to the championship game. They were led by Mike Sullivan's four goals and three assists, offensively, while goaltender James Gundling made 14 saves on 22 attempts. 

Sullivan is the team leader in points scored (58), ranking him fifth in the OAC, behind 38 goals and 20 assists. He and teammate Robbie Guiliano are fifth and fourth, respectively, in goals scored this season. Guiliano leads the team in that category with 40 scores. Between the two, they have combined for nine man-up goals and 35 ground balls. 

Defensively, Adam Norris and Brogran Orcutt have a share for the team lead in caused turnovers, each having 19. Carlos Salazar provides a big presence with 92 ground balls, which leads the Cardinals, and he has a 64.2 percent success rate (201-313) in the faceoff circle. They are also supported by the strong play of goaltender James Gundling, who in 15 games has allowed just 7.78 goals per game (third lowest in the OAC), has a save percentage of .566 (third in OAC), and has made 133 saves (fourth in OAC).

Otterbein is riding a three-match winning streak with their last loss coming at the hands of the Crusaders on April 15, 7-6, in a thrilling and physical game. It was their first and only loss to an OAC team in the program's history. They have played in three one-goal games this season, coming out 2-1 in those. 

 

ADMISSION

Quarterfinals/Semifinals/Finals - $7

OAC Student with valid ID - Free

Non-OAC Students 18 years and under - $2

Senior 62 years and older - $5

OAC Lifetime Passes will be honored for all championships (regular-season and lifetime OAC passes will not be honored)

 

PARKING

Due to Capital University commencement taking place earlier in the day, there will be limited parking on Mound Street and Pleasant Ridge Drive. The largest parking lots are located on the corner or Mound and Pleasant Ridge (LOT C), and across the street from that lot, behind Cotterman Hall. 

It is suggested to enter Capital University from the south at Livingston Road as the Main Street entrance to Capital may be closed at particular times.

Parking is FREE, but please adhere to all parking signage and any law enforcement aiding in today's parking situation. 

NOTE: Capital commencement ceremonies will be beginning at 2 p.m. and will be completed tentatively between 4 and 4:30 p.m.