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Eagles top of the table; Defense reigns supreme

Columbus is adjusting to life at the top with help of dynamic defensive pairing

Eagles defender Monique Hanayik skies to win an aerial ball against Dayton Dutch Lions as fellow defender Corie Moore looks on.

The Columbus Eagles are somewhere they aren’t typically accustomed to; the top of the table. After two games in WPSL the Eagles lead the Valley division with six points. Head Coach Mark Wise admitted he was a bit “in shock” with the results of the team this year, but was quick to say he shouldn’t be surprised given the talent his team possesses.

One of the intriguing storylines for the Eagles is how stout their defense has been. As a team, the Eagles have conceded just two goals in 450 minutes and zero goals in the last 176 minutes. Two players that have been influential in that success are central-defenders Monique Hanayik and Corie Moore.

Their attitudes on the field are incredibly similar, but off-the-field they couldn’t be more different. Moore, 33, is one of the vocal leaders on the team. She is a very accomplished player. Moore has won the U.S. Open Cup with F.C. Indiana and even has a WPSL championship to her credit.

By comparision, Hanayik, 22, is a bit more reserved in nature, and a former standout at Capital University in Columbus. She started her career as a forward before making the adjustment to center-back. She was second team all-conference as a forward and then won first team all-conference as a defender. She is just beginning her post-college career.

Moore was quick to point out some keys on why the partnership between her and Hanayik has been successful. “Learning to work with each other, I knew Monique as a forward back when she first started on the team. Learning her abilities as a defender and actually trusting her is what’s really helped.”

Moore continued, “We’ve been playing a lot in practice and that helps to know when she’s going to step and when she isn’t going to step.” She also spoke about how well Hanayik responds on the field “She listens really well when I talk to her.”

Hanayik was quick to inject some humor, “I told her I was going to mention the fact that she is eleven years older than me, so I actually have to listen to her.” She playfully added, “You have to respect your elders.”

Hanayik did echo the same sentiments of respect that Moore shared earlier, “It seems like we always have each others back. If I make a mistake, I turn around and Corie is back there.”

Wise has gone on record and said that is was a shame Hanayik wasn’t discovered as a center-back earlier in her career. She offered her thoughts on the adjustment, “At first, I hated it to be honest. I didn’t get to shoot anymore, I didn’t get to be the person who gets the game winners anymore.” She then added, “It’s kind of awesome, because I know what the attackers are going to do. I like getting in foot races every once in a while too, that’s kind of fun.”

Corie Moore clears a ball versus the Dayton Dutch Lions
Ken Tishenkel

Moore quickly dismissed any possibility of untapped potential for Hanayik, “I knew someone who played forward and was an all-American in the Big Ten at Purdue, she ended up playing left back for Canada’s National Team when she turned 26 years old. [Monique] might have missed out in college but she has some many years to play. “I’m going on my 10th year in the WPSL, she has her post college career ready to start, she already knows what position she wants to play.”

Hanayik was indifferent about whether she had untapped potential in her new position, “I have a good and a bad feeling. I might have been able to play at a higher level had I known that I could be a center-back. I was a pretty good forward, I scored at Capital, I was second team all-conference, this past year, somehow I pulled out first-team at center-back. It’s nice to be a utility, and be good enough to get it done.”

Moore really likes Hanayik and that evident to anyone who watches the Eagles for an extended period of time. Wise echoed those same sentiments after their win against FC Pride of Indianapolis, “You have to be good to earn Corie’s respect, that’s a guarantee. If you are not playing well, she will speak her mind.”

One player that both Moore and Hanayik admire is Eagles goalkeeper Shauni Kerkhoff. Both defenders said they appreciated that she was so upbeat and vocal and they appreciated it.

Both defenders are eager for this weekends fixture against Fire and Ice SC. Moore said it best, “We have to go in like we haven’t won any. Go in strong with our heads held high, ready to win.”

Hanayik, Moore and the rest of the Eagles look to make it three in-a-row against Fire and Ice SC. They will play at 1pm at Otterbein Memorial Stadium in Westerville on Sunday, June 4th.

In addition, make sure to secure your ticket for when the Eagles play Cincinnati Sirens at Mapfre Stadium on June 24th at 2pm. That game with take place before Columbus Crew SC take on the Montreal Impact.