by Kirby Boehm and Walter Watson
This past Saturday at Bernlohr Stadium the Crusaders defeated Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) foe Baldwin-Wallace by a final score of 2-1 in a game with playoff implications on the line.
An overtime goal from sophomore Jamie Murray would prove to be the deciding factor in what was an exciting and hard-fought game for the Crusaders.
“We were tied with Baldwin-Wallace for second in the conference,” said sophomore Allison Mervau.“Beating them and winning our next two games will give us home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye.”
Rarely does a team’s playoff fate rest solely on the outcome of one regular season game. But, when Baldwin-Wallace took the field against the Crusaders Saturday afternoon, that’s exactly what was at stake.
Capital conceded an early goal to the Yellow Jackets in the seventh minute when senior defender Sami Riveron sent a cross into the middle of the box finding sophomore forward Audrie Wolfe for her first tally on the season. The early strike by Baldwin-Wallace was the only goal in the half and Capital trailed 1-0, going into the intermission.
Capital came out of the gates strong in the second half, scoring in the 47th minute when sophomore Mariah Richards connected on a short pass from fellow sophomore Jamie Murray on a deflection in the box to knot things up at 1-1. Both defenses stood strong down the stretch as the game would head to extras.
Capital dominated the overtime period, recording four shots to Baldwin-Wallace’s zero. Four minutes into overtime, freshmen Becca Cartmill sent a cross into the box which Murray deflected into the back of the net for the game-winning goal – her second tally on the day.
Murray was instrumental to the Crusader offensive attack on the afternoon as her two goals scored – one to tie, one to win – led her team to victory after a lackluster first half. As big of an asset as she is to head coach Craig Kouns’ offensive game plan, Murray was quick to take the humble road as she credits teammate Hilary Ells for her development playing up top.
“When it comes to scoring I am not the main scorer for the team,” said Murray. “I can happily say that Hilary Ells, a senior on the team, really knows how to find a way to score. I’m a more improved striker now because of what she has shown me over these past two years.”
Another facet of the match that played a major part in how both teams fared defensively was the physicality. Ahead of the match with the Yellow Jackets, that aspect of the game was something the Crusaders certainly had on their minds as both sides played with a lot of grit and efort on both sides of the ball.
“Coming into the game, we knew Baldwin-Wallace would try to beat us up physically,” Richards said. “We understood the best way to not get hit was to move the ball quickly.”
Baldwin Wallace’s 13 fouls reiterated Richards’ thoughts on what the Crusaders were expecting coming into the game. The Crusaders responded with 10 fouls of their own, meeting the physical play of Baldwin-Wallace head-on. In such a physical game, it comes as a slight surprise the only booking on the day was issued to Maura Fortino in the 72nd minute.
Another aspect of the game that could not be ignored was the play of the defense and senior goalkeeper, Maggie Donnellan. After allowing the early goal, seniors Corey McClellan and Lauren Roy spoiled many attacks in front of Donnellan from Baldwin-Wallace, making key tackles throughout the second half. They worked in tandem with Donnellan who made four major saves down the stretch, keeping the game tied at one and forcing overtime.
“We were extremely anxious going into overtime,” Richards said. “It wasn’t acceptable for us to work so hard and not have the better team come out on top.”
Assistant coach Katie Robinson, expressed her thoughts on the over-time victory and what losing would have meant for the team moving forward – especially with home field advantage on the line.
“Losing any of the remaining games would put our status in the tournament up in the air as far as which seed we would get,” Robinson said. “We want to control our own destiny, not leave it up to the other teams in the OAC.”
With the win, Capital women’s soccer now moves to 5-2-0 in conference play, 12-4-1 overall, and 9-1-0 at home in Bernlohr Stadium this season.
Following their come-from-behind win on Saturday, the team was ranked No. 6 in the Great Lakes Region by both the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday.
As the team closes out the 2013 campaign, they have a chance to improve upon that ranking heading into their final two games verses Muskingum (late) and Otterbein.
Continued coach Robinson on the team’s resiliency down the stretch: “It says something about the kind of players we have on this team when you go down early 1-0, fight back, force overtime, and pull together for the win.”
Capital will continue conference play when they travel to Muskingum Oct. 30 when they take on the Muskies for a 7 p.m. opening-kick.
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