By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – As if the crosstown rivalry matchup between Capital University Men's Lacrosse and Otterbein University needed any more fuel on the fire, both teams came into Saturday's contest atop the Ohio Athletic Conference standings with perfect 5-0 conference records. After a hotly contested game full of big plays, big goals and big hits, the Crusaders emerged as wire-to-wire leaders by a final score of 11-7 to take control of the conference and hand the Cardinals their first OAC loss.
From the start it was clear that the defenses would play big roles in the game as neither team was willing to give an inch and both goalies made key early stops. When the 0-0 tie was finally broken at the 8:13 mark of the first quarter, it was Luke Wyatt (Springboro, Ohio/Springboro) who found the back of the net for the Crusaders with a solo effort. Six scoreless minutes later, Wyatt scored his second of the game off of a pass from Barrett Naugle (Champion, Pa./Greensburg Central). Otterbein scored its first goal with a minute left in the period but the Crusaders led 2-1 after 15 minutes.
Less than a minute into the second quarter, Otterbein equalized on a strike from Judson Huston and the score remained knotted at 2-2 for the next eight minutes. Finally though the Crusaders retook the lead at the 6:33 mark when freshman Jack Scharner (Maineville, Ohio/King's) set up fellow first-year player Zack Heflin (West Chester, Ohio/Bishop Fenwick) for the score. Just when it looked like the Crusaders would take the lead into halftime, the Cardinals tied the game with 55 seconds until the break.
Capital took 19 first-half shots to Otterbein's 16 and the rest of the first-half stats were fairly close but just in Capital's favor.
Only 40 seconds into the second half, Scharner connected with Heflin again for a goal to give Capital a 4-3 advantage and the Crusaders never looked back. Scores by Heflin and Scharner sandwiched an Otterbein goal over the remainder of the period and the Crusaders took a 6-4 lead into the final 15 minutes.
The Crusaders continued their offensive run to start the fourth as Wyatt collected his third of the game only 30 seconds after the period began and then Ryan Rampi (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) got on the board a minute later to put Capital up 8-4. Otterbein responded with two unanswered goals of its own but the Crusaders scored three of the final four goals to seal the win.
CJ Hughes (Cincinnati, Ohio/ Walnut Hills) scored at the 5:29 mark and then Naugle scored his first goal of the game a minute after that. Otterbein pulled one back with four minutes to play but Naugle clinched the rivalry win with an empty-net score with only 1:18 left to play.
The Crusaders finished with a 43-29 leads in shots and led in just about every other category as well. Capital picked up 29 ground balls to Otterbein's 17, won 13 of the 21 face offs, had only 15 turnovers to Otterbein's 18 and had a better percentage of successful clears although each team had only two failed clear attempts.
Both goalies had their work cut out for them all day and both performed admirably. Zachary Groene made 13 saves for the Cardinals and T.J. Johnson (Champlin, Minn./Champlin Park) made 11 for Capital. This was Johnson's ninth game of the year with double-digit saves.
Both Wyatt and Heflin finished with three goals to lead Capital and Scharner's goal and four assists gave him a team-high five points. Both his assist and point totals were career highs. Naugle finished with two goals and two assists.
The win improved the Crusaders to 12-1 overall this season and was Capital's 12th in a row, continuing the longest winning streak in program history. Capital will have another chance to add to that total on Friday, April 19 when the Purple and White travel to Ohio Northern University for another tough conference showdown. That game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.