In a moment that was ranked as the second-biggest moment of 2015 by Capital Athletics, the Crusaders captured their third-straight OAC championship in dramatic fashion. Facing a 2-1 deficit in the final minutes of regulation, Capital's Monique Hayanik (Sidney, Ohio) scored a goal to send the match into overtime. After two scoreless overtimes, the winner was decided in a back and forth shootout. Both teams traded successful shootout attempts until Kim Leitch (Rocky River, Ohio) made a diving save to give Capital the advantage. Senior forward Maura Fortino (Philadelphia, Pa.) made a move to the left as Ohio Northern's goalkeeper anticipated a move to the right, allowing Fortino an open shot for the game-winning play.
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The Crusaders will have the challenge of replacing key members of 2015's backline, including goalkeeper Kim Leitch. After receiving nearly 500 minutes between the posts at goalkeeper last season, senior Alexis Brand (Orlando, Fla.) enters the season as the favorite to start at goalie. Brand appeared in eight games, making 36 saves. Fellow senior Jordan Lyle (Sunbury, Ohio) and sophomore Hannah Klotzsche (Avon, Ohio) will also competefor the starting goalkeeper role.
Capital's defense was an important factor in its success last season, in large part due to the play of seniors Morgan Austin and All-American defender Mariah Richards. With Austin and Richards graduated, the Crusaders plan on using a combination of youth and experience to continue its strong defensive play. Capital returns four junior defenders that saw 16 or more starts last season.
Chloe Brown and Mary Bushee (San Marcos, Calif.) earned a lot of experience as sophomores last season, appearing in 19 matches. Brown displayed versatility as a defender, showcasing her ability to score. The Monclova, Ohio native finished third on the team with five goals. She also finished second with five assists. Bushee also got involved on the offensive side, scoring four goals on 28 shots.
When asked about his team's frontline, mentioned Cartmill and Hayanik as likely contritbutors, stating "When you look at the history of the team, Monique and Becca have been mainstream players. Players that have scored goals over their careers. They are both in their senior years so they will want to end on a positive note. I think those two will come back and play a vital role in scoring goals."
The Crusaders open the season on Sunday, August 21with a road match against the University of Rio Grande. The conference portion of the schedule begins on October 1 with a home match with archrival Otterbein.