By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the fifth time in program history and first time since 2008, Capital University Men's Soccer has claimed the title of Ohio Athletic Conference Regular Season Champions. The Crusaders (14-3, 8-1 OAC) dominated their rival Otterbein University Cardinals from start to finish on Saturday night, winning by a final score of 5-0.
The team celebrated the four seniors on the roster before the game but it was the junior class that got the fire started. After controlling play in the opening few minutes, Capital deservedly scored the first goal of the match in the 14th minute. After Capital pushed the ball into Otterbein's end the Cardinals briefly postponed the Capital attack when a defender kicked the ball out of bounds. The clearance worked in Capital's favor though as Greg Knox was able to launch the throw deep into the penalty box. The ball landed in the middle of a group of Crusaders and Cardinals in the middle of the box and defender Cole Moscovic got his foot on it and buried it in the back of the net. The goal was the first of Moscovic's career. The assist was the 30th of Knox's career, breaking a tie with John Ploeger for most career assists in program history.
The Crusaders showed no signs of letting up and doubled the lead in the 22nd minute with another junior to junior connection. As Otterbein was trying to clear the ball out of their end after a Capital attack, Daniel Bundschuh intercepted the ball near midfield and scooted it forward to Jamie Robson on the right side. Robson then cut inside and made a move to beat a defender and sent a cross in near the endline. The ball looked to be heading towards senior Luke Morais but Morais played the fake perfectly and let it continue towards Tristan Bentley. Bentley then teed it up perfectly and smashed home that shot from the middle of the box.
Capital's third goal came in the 37th minute with yet another junior link-up. A yellow card on Otterbein near midfield gave the Crusaders a free kick on the right side of the field and Greg Knox stepped up to the ball to take it. Knox then fired a looping pass into the box where Andrew McEwen rose to meet it with his head. The third-year player powered the ball from his position on the left side across the face of the goal, past the keeper and into the right side of the goal and the rout was on as Knox picked up his second helper of the night.
The Crusaders took 12 first-half shots to Otterbein's four and held a 10-1 advantage in that category early on. The second half did not get any better for the Cardinals as Capital continued the scoring barrage.
Five minutes into the second period, a punt by Capital keeper Logan Wiedman set up Capital's offense deep in Otterbein territory. After the ball bounced around between a few players, Bundschuh launched a high-arching pass forward to Nick Scharfenberger and Scharfenberger headed it forward. The header put Robson in perfect position to race past an Otterbein defender and gave the junior a one-on-one play with the keeper and Robson calmly deposited it in the back of the net and raced to the corner to celebrate with the elated Capital bench.
Less than four minutes later, Capital scored its final goal of the night on another throw-in from Knox. A goal kick from Otterbein briefly alleviated the Capital pressure but Matt Scheper got his head on the ball and Scharfenberger kicked the ball off of a Cardinal and the ball ricocheted out of bounds. Knox launched another ball deep into the penalty box and Bundschuh guided it into the goal, making him the only senior to score on Senior Night.
As a team, the Crusaders outshot Otterbein 24-9. Capital's senior in goal made two saves on the night as the Crusaders earned Wiedman his sixth clean sheet of the season.
The Crusaders came into the game tied with John Carroll University for the top spot in the OAC and while both teams won on Saturday, Capital owned the tiebreaker via Capital's 1-0 double-overtime win on Oct. 6. Not only did Saturday's win clinch the OAC regular season title for Capital but it also locked up the No. 1 see in next week's OAC Tournament. Capital will have home-field advantage throughout the tournament and has a bye into the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 1. Kickoff for that game at Bernlohr Stadium will be at 7 p.m. against the lowest remaining seed remaining.