Throughout the preseason the Columbus Eagles remain laser focused on preparation for the 2018 Women’s Premier Soccer League season. Columbus earned a 9-0 victory against Ohio Wesleyan and a physical 2-1 win over Ohio Dominican before the start of the year.
Looking to put it all together on Saturday afternoon, the Eagles welcomed expansion side Ann Arbor FC to Columbus on the campus of Otterbein University to kickoff the WPSL season.
With all of its attacking firepower on display, Columbus came out with a clear game plan of pressing high against the Lumberjills. The Eagles three-headed monster of Kelly DeNiro, Lisa Nouanesengsy and Rachel MacLeod pestered the Ann Arbor goal early and often.
The Lumberjills defense held early on as it packed the center of the park. This forced the Eagles attack to work the ball out wide and get service into the penalty box.
Columbus’ best opportunity came towards the end of the first half when midfielder Alexa Cheripko and Lila Remache provided a spark off the bench and helped the Eagles put more stress on the Lumberjills defense. Unfortunately for the home team, this group couldn’t break through.
The second half yielded different results for Columbus.
Maybe it was the heat or the persistence of the Eagles offense, but the Lumberjills defense finally broke. Eagles forward Rian Reid scored the game’s first goal off a tremendous assist from Rachel MacLeod in the 68th minute.
Columbus capitalized off of an Ann Arbor turnover in the attacking zone and kicked the ball wide to MacLeod. She crossed a beautiful ball into Reid who hit the ball on the volley past the Lumberjills’ keeper to claim an early advantage. It was an impressive moment for Reid who came on moments earlier replacing an injured Larissa Najjar.
Another midfield miscue for Ann Arbor lead to a Columbus goal just a minute later. Eagles midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy put the game out of reach when she claimed a loose ball and put her shot to the far post, beating the goalkeeper.
It was the stout Columbus defense maintained the clean sheet to claim the first win of the WPSL season.
Goalkeeper Hannah Sargent wasn’t tested during the game. Micaela Powers and Megan Minnix anchored a stout Eagles backline and didn’t allow a shot from inside of the penalty area.
After spending much of the 2017 season injured, forward Rachel MacLeod looks poised to have a huge 2018 season. Not only is the former Toledo Rocket a threat to score but her distribution has been top notch in recent weeks.
Forward Rian Reid joined the Columbus Eagles within the last two weeks. For her to earn a spot on the roster so quickly proves that she be a force team in 2018. In her debut, Reid scored the game winning goal for the Eagles and could be a quality super sub as the season wears on.
Columbus heads on the road on May 19th to take on the Cincinnati Sirens. The game kicks off at 5 p.m. EST.