Capital Men’s Soccer Faces Tough Opening Weekend in NCAA Tournament

Photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography
Photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography

By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Capital University Men's Soccer earned an at-large bid and secured its place in the 2018 NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament but the hardest is yet to come against three quality opponents.

The Crusaders will be playing their first, and possibly second, round matchups at No. 8 Case Western Reserve University with the Spartans serving as the host for the regional. Joining Capital and Case are Keystone College and Capital's first-round opponent, Westminster College (Pa.).

Regional Information | Live Stats | Video | Interactive Bracket

In Capital's third-ever NCAA postseason game, the Crusaders (14-4, 8-1 OAC) will serve as the home team against the Titans on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1:30 p.m. at DiSanto Field. Westminster (14-5, 5-2 PAC) earned an automatic berth into the tournament by winning the Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship and posted a 14-5 overall record. This is the sixth national tournament appearance for the Titans but first since 2015.

Westminster has been the class of the PAC since the season began and, similarly to Capital, finished at the top of the conference's offensive and defensive leaderboards. The Titans scored the most goals in the PAC with 54 in 19 contests for a league-leading 2.84 goals per game average. Only one PAC team took more shots and Westminster was first in assists (33) and assists per game (1.74). The Titans attempted 77 corners, tied for the fourth-most in the conference.

On defense, the Titans allowed only 18 goals for a 0.94 goals against average, both the second-best marks in the conference. Westminster's 10 shutouts led the PAC.

The Crusaders scored 59 goals this season, tops in the Ohio Athletic Conference and led the OAC with 3.28 goals per game. Capital's 41 assists were second in the league. On defense, Capital allowed only three more goals than the Titans with 21, tied for the third-fewest in the conference, an average of 1.15 per match. The Crusaders recorded six shutouts.

Although the Titans do not have one player as explosive as Capital's Chewy Gordon, the 1-2 punch of sophomore Nick Iregui and junior Peter Mattocks has led Westminster on offense this season with Iregui leading the PAC with 42 points. The sophomore's 17 goals and eight assists both were tops in the league. Mattocks tied for second in the PAC with 10 goals and tied for third with six assists. Justin Brandt scored four goals for Westminster and four additional Titans found the back of the net three times.

The Crusaders have been led offensively by the sensational goal scoring of Gordon who is tied for second in the country with 24 goals. He has been assisted all season long by junior defender Greg Knox who has a program-record 16 assists this season, also tied for the second-most in Division III.

The two starting keepers for Capital and Westminster are both seniors and both have been among the best at the position in the country. A.J. Bove, a three-year starter for Westminster, has been the first name on the sheet 18 times this year and has allowed only 16 goals while making 70 saves at a .814 clip. Capital's Logan Wiedman has started 17 times and allowed 17 goals while saving 84 shots with a .825 save percentage. Both Wiedman and Bove have five clean sheets.

Should the Crusaders best the Titans, Capital will face the winner of Case Western (14-3-1, 4-2-1 University Athletic Association) and Keystone (12-4-1, 5-1 Colonial States Athletic Conference) on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. Capital and Case Western have already met once this season, a 1-0 overtime win for the Spartans on Sept. 15. Wiedman made seven saves in that contest.

The Spartans led the UAA in goals with 44 for a second-place 2.44 per game. CWRU was in the middle of the UAA pack in terms of goals allowed but that speaks more to the defensive quality of the conference than any shortcomings on Case's part. The Spartans were fifth in the league with 17 goals allowed in 18 games for a 0.94 goals against average. The Spartans had eight shutouts. Case has one of the deepest offensive stables in the tournament with four players who scored six or more goals. Alex Besl and Garrett Winter each scored eight. Charlie Fink recorded seven clean sheets in goal and made 55 saves while allowing 16 goals.

Keystone led the CSAC with 47 goals scored and allowed the third-fewest goals in the conference with 24. Daniel Zuniga led the Giants and conference with 13 goals and 29 points while Carlos Bonilla tied for fourth in the conference with 19 points. Bonilla scored six goals and assisted seven more. Erick Gomez recorded four clean sheets in goal while allowing only 14 goals and making 29 saves in 14 games.

Case Western and Keystone will kick off the regional action at 11 a.m. on Saturday and the Crusaders and Titans will then play at 1:30 p.m. The winner of the two first-round matchups will then meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11.

Admission Information

General Admission -  $6.00
Student w/ID - $3.00
Senior Citizens - $3.00
Children (3-12) - $2.00
Children under 3 - Free