UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio – The battle for the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Championship was marred by wet and cold weather, but the play on the field between Capital University and John Carroll University was heated. The top-seeded Blue Streaks defended their home field and OAC title by defeating the third-seeded Crusaders, 11-8, at Don Shula Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
John Carroll built up a three-goal lead midway through the third quarter with a pair of Connor Pike tallies, the second coming off a turnover in front of the Capital cage. Junior attackman Brennan O'Callaghan (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) took over, scoring back-to-back goals to bring the Crusaders back to within one goal. The first of those two goals marked his 60th goal of the season.
With the momentum swaying in Capital's favor, John Carroll scored twice in less than two minutes to take the wind out of Capital's sails. The Blue Streaks began to stall, so Cap responded by applying more pressure on the defensive end. Cap forced two turnovers in a three-minute span, but the Blue Steaks still found a way to score. RP Whitty put the game out of reach with a goal from close range to put JCU up, 11-7, with 4:32 to go in the game. Freshman C.J. Hughes (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills) scored his first goal of the game with 2:38 remaining, but it was not enough to spark a comeback.
John Carroll won the ground ball battle, taking in eight more than Capital (31-23). They also held a large advantage in faceoff wins (16-6), which were both trends in JCU's wins leading up to the championship match.
Capital had a great deal of success while on the man advantage by converting all three of its extra-man chances. The special teams unit continued to thrive by killing all five man-up opportunities John Carroll had in the game.
Teddy Crites (Waukee, Iowa/Wawukee) had a solid day for the Crusaders, finishing with four points behind two goals and two assists. The junior lit up the scoreboard for the first time with a highlight-reel sweeping shot from in front of the John Carroll cage. After the Blue Streaks' Collin Rice was called for unnecessary roughness, Capital went on the man up and began moving the ball around in an attempt to find a hole. Crites received a pass while moving to the far post, then swept downward and snuck the ball inside the bar for the goal. Watch the goal again!
Junior goalkeeper Cole Palmby (Delaware, Ohio/Olentangy) was well tested in the first half. John Carroll tossed 18 shots toward the Capital cage, 11 of them landing on frame. Palmby made 10 saves, including a pair of point-blank stops and another that rattled off of his right leg from close range. In the second quarter, Palmby made five stops, all coming inside the first nine minutes of the quarter. He finished with 10 total saves and added four ground balls.
Senior defenseman Tate Stover (Delaware, Ohio/Olentangy) led the team with four caused turnovers. Hours earlier, he was commissioned into the United State Army after serving in the Capital University ROTC program.
Also highlighting the defense was freshman Christopher Yeager with three caused turnovers and three ground balls.
O'Callaghan finished with four goals, taking his season total to 61 – three short of his own Capital season record – and added one assist for a five-point day.
Capital ends its season with a 10-6 overall record and finished the year having won eight of its last 10 matches dating back to April 1. They have now reached the OAC Tournament championship match twice in the last three years and have posted double-digit win totals in each of the last three years.