BEREA, Ohio – Paced by superb goaltending, a stringent defense, and hat tricks by a pair of Crusaders, the Capital men's lacrosse team will play in its second Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship game following its 12-4 victory over Baldwin Wallace University on Tuesday night.
Third-seeded Capital (10-5 overall) posted a dozen goals against the best defense in the OAC, marking the most given up by Baldwin Wallace in a single game in 2017. This includes an early season loss to NCAA Division I opponent, Cleveland State University, who beat BW 9-2 to open the campaign. The win grants Capital the right to play the winner of the No. 1 John Carroll University (10-4, 8-0 OAC) vs. No. 4 Otterbein University (8-9, 5-3 OAC) match on Saturday, May 6 for its first OAC Tournament Championship in school history. The JCU/Otterbein game will be played on Wednesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. in University Heights, Ohio.
Capital's return to the OAC Tournament Championship marks the second time the Crusaders have made it to the title tilt in its four-year history. It also marks the first postseason win for Head Coach Dom Marzano. Capital played in its first OAC title game in 2015 on its home field against Otterbein University.
The Capital attack was fast and overwhelming, serving as the team's main ingredient toward success in the first half. Capital outshot Baldwin Wallace 22-16 and pulled in three more ground balls than the hosts. Despite BW holding a big advantage on faceoffs, 11-3, Capital made the most of its opportunities by shooting a far higher rate of success.
Junior Teddy Crites (Waukee, Iowa/Waukee) scored three goals in the opening 30 minutes, with two serving as bookends to the first half. He scored Cap's first goal with 8:02 remaining in the first quarter, unassisted, before sophomore Barrett Naugle (Champion, Pa./Greensburg Central) doubled up the lead. Senior Brent Walton (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central) added fuel to the fire by rocketing in his 18th goal of the season stemming off of a feed from C.J. Hughes, giving Cap a 3-0 lead with 3:33 to go in the opening frame.
Baldwin Wallace ended the string of offense when Alex Binner answered with his first goal of the evening, but Capital was quick to retaliate at the start of the second quarter. Continuing to apply the pressure using its patented fast-paced offense, junior Brennan O'Callaghan marked up the scoreboard for the first time just 1:02 into the quarter, shooting a bouncer past the BW keeper. Crites then served up a helping hand to Walton four minutes later, where Walton finished the job to give Cap a 5-1 lead.
Baldwin Wallace got those two goals back with scores by Thomas Moesch and Riley Mahon less than one minute apart, but Cap was quick to the draw in its response. O'Callaghan and Hughes erased the Yellow Jackets' work to get back into the game with goals in at the eight and 11-minute marks of the quarter. The Hughes goal to put Cap up 7-3 and prompted a BW goalie change, taking Mike Dizonno out after giving up seven scores on 17 shots faced. Nate Karatas entered, but did not fare well either.
Capital struck quickly again, but Crites was the culprit that posted each of the final two goals of the half. Both goals came unassisted and 1:17 separated them. Those goals ended Karatas' day between the posts as BW trotted Dizonno back out to start the second half.
While the Baldwin Wallace goaltenders struggled, Capital netminder Cole Pamby (Delaware, Ohio/Olentangy) thrived in his fourth career playoff game. The junior was on fire, making eight saves out the total of 16 that were fired his way. That success continued in the second half when the Yellow Jackets came out of the locker room with a mission to score, yet Palmby responded with a big, low save near the far post in the opening minutes.
Baldwin Wallace took a page out of Capital's book by using a quick-strike offense to take the guests out of the early portion of the third quarter. Capital did not get a real chance to score until eight minutes into the third. After that chance was turned away, Palmby flashed some wall-like stopping power with a point blank save from a Joey Briski shot on the other side. Briski came back when the storm calmed and continued to work Palmby's right side, but the junior netminder again answered the call with a body save.
In a defensive third quarter, Baldwin Wallace accounted for the only goal scored. That did not bother the Crusaders, especially O'Callaghan and notched his 11th hat trick of the season, and sixth straight. The goal gave Capital a six-goal lead with 11 minutes to go in the game. The reigning OAC Offensive Player of the Week continued to pour it on by delivering two more decisive blows with a man-up goal and an unassisted, even-strength goal to bulk Capital's lead to 12-4.
O'Callaghan scored all three of Capital's goals in the second half. He finished with five goals, marking his league-leading 57th goal of the season.
Crites finished the night with four points behind three goals and one assist. Walton and Hughes both had three-point games, combining for three goals and three helpers.
Palmby, the reigning OAC Defensive Player of the Week, made 14 saves against BW. He now has three consecutive games with 10 or more saves and eight times this season has hit that mark.
Senior defenseman Tate Stover (Delaware, Ohio/Olentangy) created four of the team's 12 caused turnovers to lead the team. Sophomore Christopher Yeager (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) and freshman Connor Ryan (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy Orange) led Cap with six ground balls, each.
Baldwin Wallace was led by Binner's two goals, and Alex Fioritto had a successful day on the 'X' by winning 15-of-20 faceoffs. The Yellow Jackets end their season with an overall record of 12-3.