The Crusaders' season comes to a close after the group earned its third Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and third trip to the national tournament that included at least one win.
"I am really, really proud of this group and so excited for the journey we took," said head coach Chris Kouns. "It is exciting that that they won another championship and a game in the NCAA Tournament, plus we're returning a vast majority of the team for next year. This has been awesome lesson for us going forward."
Messiah, ranked No. 2 in the country by the National Soccer Coaches of America Association (NSCAA), placed much pressure on a Capital defense that had allowed one or fewer goals in each of its last six matches. That pressure added up and resulted in two first-half goals scored just 1:32 apart from one another. Holly Burgard registered the first tally in the 20th minute and Marisa Weaver tallied her 15th of the season just before the turn of the 22nd minute.
Despite being down a pair, the Crusaders were far from down and out. An early miscue led to the Falcons' applying their third goal of the game less than a minute into the second half. However, the Crusaders came storming back when Chloe Brown (Monclova, Ohio) brought Capital back within two goals. Brown shot a laser toward the Falcons' goal and deflected off of goalkeeper Audra Larson's hand and into the cage.
Messiah's fourth goal came as a result of a turnover that was brought back down the field and converted into a score. Burgard collected her second goal of the game when from the near side of the field put a shot on frame that found the back of the net.
The Falcons were then awarded a penalty kick following a Capital foul, which they converted to lead to a 5-1 final score.
"The score really isn't indicative of the game, but I will say that Messiah is by far the best team we have played all year," said Kouns. We felt like there were terrific lessons we could learn from this game. Their [Messiah] speed of play, their intensity, and their work rate were all absolutely top notch. I think that for our young group, playing a team like that and seeing what the next level is for us, I think that is an awesome experience.
Senior Jessie Cermelj (Westerville, Ohio/Worthington Christian), who has been a part of all three of the Crusaders' NCAA postseason trips since Kouns took the helm of the program, saw action on the pitch in her last match as a Crusader.