Tigerville, SC – The Crusaders came out electric looking for their first win of the season and found it in a 15 – 10 victory over the Eagles from Embry-Riddle University. Your Crusaders scored early and often as the offense was unleashed against a young and inexperienced defense. Although the Eagles made a run early in the second half the Crusaders continually made play-after-play to keep the lead. Turnovers were still costly for the Crusaders as the Eagles took advantage of several for goals and also used their man-up advantage to score three goals. Jon Watson (Senior) was an invaluable asset for the Crusaders as he dominated the faceoff dot and got the ball to the offensive end safely throughout the Eagle runs.
The first quarter was all about the Crusaders as four different Crusaders [Kyle Hunziker (Senior), Derrick Shealy (Sophomore), Austin Dixon (Junior), and Thomas Cecere (Freshman)] netted goals throughout the period. Dixon led the way with two goals both assisted [Chris Carpenter (Senior) and Chris Wieckhorst (Junior)]. The Defense was outstanding in the first half taking advantage of turnovers by Embry-Riddle. Defensively, Jaren Szafranski (Senior) and Sky Dupree (Senior) led the way combining for nine caused turnovers and 12 ground balls throughout the game. The duo, along with Zeth Sutton (Junior) took away multiple opportunities for the Eagles to score as they continually picked up ground balls in transition and caused turnovers during even play.
The rest of the first half was slower for the Crusaders who traded goals with Embry-Riddle who sparked a small bit of life in the last part of the half. After a goal at the 14:13 mark in the second quarter for the Eagles the Crusaders responded with two goals of their own from Corey Long (Sophomore) and another from Dixon. Long’s goal should be a SportsCenter Top 10 nominee as he backhanded the shot from eight yards out and placed the shot directly over the left shoulder of the goalie. The Eagles went on to score two goals at the end of the half – one in transition and the other off of a broken defensive play.
Coming out in the second half coach Corey Struss rallied his men as Embry-Riddle was looking to strike back. The Eagle’s rattled off three goals in a row at the beginning of the third quarter taking advantage of an injured Braeden Dixon (Junior). Experience was the key for the Crusaders as the team was calm and collected throughout the Eagle run. Coach Struss said that “experience would shine” for the Crusaders before the game and it did in a big way as the offense got the ball post the Eagle run and Carpenter netted a much-needed goal for the Crusaders at the eight-minute mark (Goal assisted by Shealy). The Crusaders then rattled off three goals in a row all scored by seniors. Hunziker, Carpenter, and Alex Proly (Senior) scored goals within the next five minutes to push the Crusader lead to five goals.
The teams scored four goals apiece in the final quarter of play with two of Embry-Riddles goals coming on the man-up advantage. Hunziker and Dixon combined for three goals in the quarter to add to their totals for the game and Fletcher Steveson (Junior) netted his first goal of the game. In every major category the Crusaders dominated the Eagles posting a +27 in the shot column, a +14 for ground balls, -7 for turnovers, and winning 2 more faceoffs. Coach Struss was correct that experience shined through and the Crusaders made play-after-play to secure the win.
Individually, Austin Dixon played exceptionally well shooting 5 for 11, while Kyle Hunziker posted 3 goals on 50% shooting. Chris Carpenter netted 2 goals and made 2 assists on the afternoon. Jon Watson finished the afternoon 54% from the dot and collected 8 ground balls throughout the game. Jaren Szafranski, Zeth Sutton, and Sky Dupree cleaned up the defensive end collectively finishing the game with 17 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers.
The Crusaders will look to start a winning streak as the team will host Wheeling-Jesuit University in Tigerville on March 2nd. That match is set to faceoff at 1 pm.