By Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio - What a difference a half can make. After a scoreless first 45 minutes on Saturday and while facing a goal deficit, Capital University Men's Soccer exploded for three goals in the second to beat Millikin University, 3-1, in the final game of the 2017 Fred Myers/adidas® Invitational.
Capital (3-1) started Saturday's game by being forced to play the majority of the first 15 minutes in their own half. Millikin (0-3-1) did well to control the pace of the game and possess the ball, but Capital's defense only allowed three shots on goal. Right before the half though, one of those shots found the back of the net, a deposit by Gabriel Gil that put the Big Blue up 1-0.
Capital went into the break down one but whatever was said in the locker room struck the right chord. Immediately after the teams returned for the second half, it was obvious that Capital had sense of urgency that was not there in the first. Less than 10 minutes into the period, the Crusaders leveled the score on a header from Chewy Gordon (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central). After moving into the attacking third, Friday's hero, Daniel Bundschuh (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills), sliced towards the middle from the left side of the goal and delivered a pass that found Gordon near the right post and Gordon guided it in.
After the goal, both teams had quality chances to move ahead but the score remained knotted at one as time ticked away. In the 64th minute, Millikin's Michael Longo had an opportunity at an open goal after a defensive miscue by Capital but his shot sailed high. Just a few minutes after that, Gordon had a chance to score his second of the night after Millikin's goalkeeper collided with a defender but he pushed his shot against an open goal wide right.
Both teams continued their back-and-forth struggle until the 78th minute when the Crusaders finally took control. After a period of impressive defending against multiple Big Blue attacks, Capital was able to clear the ball out towards midfield to Luke Morais (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville South). After receiving the clearance, Morais turned on the jets, sprinted past two Millikin defenders the length of Millikin's half and found only the keeper in front of him. Morais then beat the goalie and calmly tapped the ball in to give Capital a 2-1 lead.
The Crusaders added an insurance goal in the 86th minute from the penalty spot, Gordon being the one to send it in. Gordon's two goals earned him a spot on the 2017 Fred Myers/adidas® Invitational All-Tournament Team alongside Morais, Budschuh and Capital goalkeeper Justin Niswonger (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville). Niswonger made two saves on Saturday to improve his record to 3-1 on the season and received the Dick Gauthier Award for tournament MVP.
Capital finished the game with a 16-7 advantage in shots and outshot the Big Blue by nine in the second half, 11-2.
Capital will welcome Denison University to Purmort Field at Bernlohr Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 13 for their next contest. That game will kick off at 7 p.m.