COLUMBUS, Ohio – Capital University Men's Lacrosse felt the power of the force during its annual rivalry matchup with the Cardinals of Otterbein University. The Purple and White trailed at halftime, but regrouped and held Otterbein to just one goal in the second half. The Crusader's offense, powered by C.J. Hughes, fueled Capital to a 12-6 victory at Purmort Field at Bernlohr Stadium, Saturday afternoon.
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Capital (3-5, 1-1 OAC) found itself down by one heading into the locker room after Otterbein (3-7, 1-1 OAC) scored three straight goals to take a 5-4 lead into the break. Freshman C.J. Hughes (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills) changed that quickly. Less than two minutes after the restart, Hughes connected with sophomore Ryan Rampi (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) to tie the game at five goals each. Brent Walton took a shot, and Rampi helped Capital regain possession. Rampi then drove from behind the cage and Hughes was left wide open on the nearside post for the easy goal.
Hughes' goal was the first of five consecutive scores by the Crusaders, which led to a 9-5 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of the game. While the offense scored at will, the Capital defense was hard at work preventing Otterbein from scoring. Despite holding deficits in faceoffs won and ground balls, Capital held Otterbein without a goal in the third quarter. Junior Cole Palmby (Delaware, Ohio) made four saves in the frame to keep the cage clean, while the defense caused a pair of turnovers and killed off a penalty in which the Crusaders were down two men for a 30-second period.
Capital took the lead once and for all 64 seconds after Hughes' game-tying goal when senior Teddy Crites (Waukee, Iowa/Waukee) found Carson Paull (Sandpoint, Idaho/Sandpoint) on a pass that set the junior up for a long-range shot. Paull ripped off a laser from 15 yards away to beat Otterbein goaltender James Gundling top shelf.
Up 6-5, Capital standout Brennan O'Callaghan (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) had his number called by Rampi to put the Crusaders up by two goals. From behind the cage, Rampi found O'Callaghan on the right point and found the upper nearside corner for his third goal of the day. Hughes found the back of the net following a blocked shot that bounced out toward midfield. Michael Trefethern scooped it up and sprinted downfield where Hughes once again was left alone to rocket a shot to the corner of the goal again.
Walton scored Capital's fifth straight goal at the top of the fourth quarter to put Cap up by four goals. Otterbein did not score until the clock hit 9:55 in the fourth, ending a drought of 23:40 without a goal.
Hughes scored his third goal on the day while Cap was on the man-up opportunity. Sophomore Barrett Naugle posted an unassisted goal to get into the scoring column. Hughes then scored his team-leading fourth goal with 1:37 remaining to successfully double up their lead on the Cardinals, 12-6, and post the Crusaders' third straight to end the game.
Between the posts, Palmby put up another quality stat line with eight saves and just six goals on 14 shots faced. His counterpart, James Gundling, made 13 saves on 25 shots faced.
Otterbein's Jake Grundey led its scoring effort with one goal and two assists before suffering an injury prior to the end of the first half. He did not play for the duration of the game. Ryan Gombita equaled Grundey's line with one goal and two helpers.
O'Callaghan and Hughes combined for seven of Capital's 12 goals, while Paull accounted for two more. Hughes has now turned in four different games with at least four goals.
Rampi led with three assists on the day, and added two caused turnovers. Defenseman Connor Ryan (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy Orange) posted a career-high five ground balls and added one caused turnover to lead the defense.
The win breaks a four-match losing streak and lifts Capital's record to 1-1 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Its overall record now rests at 3-4. They will take those numbers into its next contest at the University of Mount St. Joseph next Wednesday, April 5. The Lions and Crusaders will square off at 4 p.m.
Capital hosted its first Hall Wars competition between living quarters over the course of the game. Team Lohman won the competition after showing the highest attendance to Saturday's game and winning the loudest cheer battle against three other teams. Lohman Hall will now be treated to an array of party platters, courtesy of Jimmy John's, prior to the start of finals week.