COLUMBUS – The Capital University women's soccer team has clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, following a 4-0 defeat of John Carroll, in the team's second Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship in the past three seasons.
Capital now awaits the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament Selection Show on Monday at 1:30 p.m., to see who they will match up against in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"I thought the difference today was our ability to keep the ball and make John Carroll chase the game," said head coach Chris Kouns. "Ultimately, our movement off the ball set up some great attacking opportunities and we were focused on not letting those slip away."
Senior Hilary Ells inked the scoreboard first in the fifth minute for the Crusaders, following a throw-in assist by senior Livvy Hein, to which Ells dribbled the ball a short distance before striking it in for an early 1-0 lead.
"Hilary Ells' goal early in the game set the tone for us in terms of being relentless in the final third," Kouns said.
Then in the 17th minute of play, freshman Becca Cartmill extended her OAC assists lead on a pass to senior Lauren Roy, who doubled the Crusaders lead to 2-0.
As the first half came to a close, the Crusaders cruised into halftime with a 2-0 lead, holding the Blue Streaks to just three shots total.
In the second half of play, 35 minutes passed before Capital extended its lead to 3-0, on an assist inside the box from senior Alyssa Goodnightto sophomore Allison Mervau, who rebounded a loose ball off the Blue Streaks' goalkeeper, tapping the ball in for the score.
Just three minutes later, the Crusaders played add-on once again, tallying their fourth goal of the match in the 83rd minute, following seniorKatie Freshour collecting a loose ball in the box on the corner kick, extending the lead, 4-0.
"I felt Hilary Ells' goal early in the game set the tone for us in terms of being relentless in the final third," Kouns said. "That was also really clear in the third goal where Alyssa Goodnight took off on a great attack into the final third finding Allison Mervau for the goal."
In total, the Blue Streaks managed to unload a respectable 11 shots, four of them coming on goal, while the Crusaders tallied 11 of their 14 shots on goal.
"I am so incredibly proud of the show that these young women put on today," Kouns said. "From our training and video session yesterday, I knew we had an attacking game plan that would work and they made no doubt about it from the opening kickoff that they were here to execute and win. It is a great testament to the dedication level of the players in the program that they came out and showed what a championship caliber program is capable of doing."
With the win, Capital has now earned its second OAC Tournament championship in the past three seasons.
"This win says the world about the character of these student-athletes," Kouns said. "Every single player on the bench or on the field was focused on achieving this goal and we did just that in a complete team effort."
Leading the way for the Crusaders was senior goalkeeper Maggie Donnellan, saving six shots on goal from a total of 11 shots faced throughout the game.
Ells netted her 14th goal of the season, while Hein picked up her fifth assist on the year on the score.
Roy scored her first goal of the season, as Cartmill tallied her 10th assist of the season.
Mervau recorded her third goal of the year, while Goodnight notched her second assist.
Freshour also chipped in a late unassisted goal, her second of the season.
With the win, Capital (16-4-1) has received an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, beginning on Nov. 15.
"Our team is really looking forward to our second trip in the last three years to the 'Big Dance'," Kouns said. "Last time around we were given a tremendous opportunity to advance after defeating Alma (Mich.), playing Wheaton (Ill.), in the round-of-32, and they showed us what a top flight caliber team looks like. I am hopeful that we will be able to build from that experience, playing up to our full potential and working to take one more step further than we did the last time around."
Be sure to stay up-to-date at athletics.capital.edu for the most recent information regarding the team's first round opponent and location.