COLUMBUS, Ohio – In rivalry rematch that had conference tournament championship rights on the line, the Capital University and Otterbein University men's lacrosse teams met up once again at Bernlohr Field to battle it out for the right to be called a champion. The Crusaders showed resilience but were unable to overcome its first-half deficit, falling to the Cardinals, 8-5, on Saturday evening.
While Otterbein controlled possession for much of the first quarter, both teams engaged in a defensive battle that left the second-seeded Cardinals ahead but only by a score of 1-0. Freshman goalkeeper Cole Palmby (Delaware, Ohio/Olentangy) made his presence known early by making five saves in the first frame alone.
Capital fell behind 3-0 heading into the final third of the second quarter, but on the tail end of an Otterbein penalty, the Capital special teams helped mark up the scoreboard for the first time. Freshman Johnathan Mundell (Mt. Holly Springs, Pa.) scored while the Crusaders were a man up, receiving a feed from fellow freshman, Brennan O'Callaghan (West Chester, Ohio), and whipping it past Otterbein goalkeeper James Gundling. That score was taken into the half.
The third quarter belonged to the Cardinals, scoring three times from different players each time to take a commanding 6-1 lead.
However, the Crusaders were anything but out as they stormed back with three unanswered goals to make for just a two-goal game within much of the fourth quarter yet to play. Sophomore Brent Walton (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) picked his way through the Otterbein defense and scored his first and only goal of the day.
That goal got the Capital crowd back into the game and ignited the freshman sensation, O'Callaghan. He and Walton then teamed up twice and scored a pair of goals in less than a minute when O'Callaghan worked Gundling's right side on the near post.
Despite the momentum shifting to the Purple and White's side, experience and a strong faceoff presence helped carry the Cardinals to victory. Robbie Guiliano and Mike Sullivan scored in succession and left 6:43 on the clock, not enough time to overcome a four-goal deficit.
O'Callaghan scored his third goal of the game while the Crusaders were on the man-up, but 8-5 was all the closer they would get as Otterbein controlled the clock for the duration of the contest.
Palmby finished with eight saves on the day. O'Callaghan led the team in both goals (3) and caused turnovers (3). Seven different Capital players finished with two ground balls a piece to share the team lead.
Three players scored two goals each for Otterbein, those being Guiliano, Brandon Stroup and Mike Sullivan. Stroup also added an assist to his line. Carlos Salazar had a solid day in the faceoff circle, taking 16-of-17 draws.
Capital is unlikely to receive an at-large bid to the 2015 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse tournament, while Otterbein will receive the automatic berth by virtue of winning the conference tournament championship. The Crusaders finish their magical season with a 14-3 overall record after clinching the regular season championship with an undefeated 6-0 mark.