By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – On the back of a strong first-half performance from Capital University Men's Lacrosse, the Crusaders were able to hang on to victory against Wittenberg University on Wednesday night 14-13. With the win, Capital improved to 4-1 overall to start 2019.
The Crusaders played well enough in the first half to take an 11-6 lead into the break. Capital then led 13-7 after the third quarter. In the fourth though, the Tigers completely flipped the switch by scoring six of the period's seven goals. Noah Moderwell scored twice to begin the quarter to cut Capital's lead to four. After a Capital goal by Talbott Gottwals that restored a five-goal lead, Wittenberg nearly completed a furious comeback with four unanswered scores.
With just over five minutes to play, Cooper Harris found the back of the net and Michael Carluccio did the same with four minutes to play. Thirty seconds after Carluccio's score Capital's lead was cut to only two goals thanks to a goal by Andrew Ellis. From there though Capital's defense was able to clamp down and allow only two more shots. With 3:16 left to play Capital goalkeeper T.J. Johnson made a crucial save against Carluccio and Wittenberg did not get another crack at goal until Moderwall scored again with only 15 seconds left in the game, too late for the Crusaders to concede the win.
Johnson made 13 saves for the second game in a row and has now made more than 10 saves in four of Capital's five games this year.
Capital attacker CJ Hughes started the game's scoring two minutes into the contest with an unassisted goal to give Capital the lead and then Ryan Rampi doubled the advantage a minute later to put Capital up 2-0. Wittenberg and the Crusaders then traded the next four goals and Capital held a 5-3 lead after one. Hughes and Rampi each had two first-period goals and Zack Heflin scored the fifth.
Hughes began the second quarter with his third goal of the night and the Crusaders and Tigers traded scores again with three each in the first 10 minutes of the quarter and Capital led 8-6. In the period's final five minutes though, Ed Carroll, Hughes and Rampi all found the back of Wittenberg's net as three unanswered goals put Capital up 11-6 heading into halftime.
Carroll and Hughes each scored again in a low-scoring 2-1 third period and then Capital hung on in the fourth.
Hughes finished the game with five goals and three assists for eight points to lead the Crusaders and Rampi had three goals and two assists for five points. Gottwals added three score of his own and a helper. Carroll's two goals and Heflin's one rounded out the Capital goals.
As the score indicates, both Capital and Wittenberg were pretty evenly matched. Both teams took 39 shots in the game, both picked up 32 ground balls and both sides had 25 successful clears. Capital had 27 clear attempts and Wittenberg had 28. Johnson made 13 saves in net for the Crusaders and Wittenberg goalkeeper Max Cavellier made 14. Capital won 19 of the 31 total face offs with Tyler Faig going 17-for-27.
Up next the Crusaders will return home on Saturday, March 16 to host Transylvania University (Ky.). The Crusaders and Pioneers are scheduled to face off at 1 p.m. on Purmort Field at Bernlohr Stadium.