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Eagles hold on for another road point at FC Pride

In another gritty performance, Columbus saw a potential two points slip away.

Columbus Eagles Kelly DeNiro outmuscles an FC Pride defender to regain possession.
Ralph Schudel

Looking to bounce back after last week’s loss to Motor City FC, the Columbus Eagles traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, for a match against division opponent FC Pride. The Eagles lost a heart breaker to Motor City FC last week and with it the top spot in the WPSL Valley Division.

Columbus head coach Daniel Seiffert and his team were determined to get back on the right track. The Eagles began the match in impressive fashion against FC Pride with midfielders Ashley Gogolin and Micaela Powers established control of the game during the first 10 minutes. This in turn played a key role in Columbus dominating possession through the first quarter hour and created quality scoring chances.

In the 11th minute, forward Rachel MacLeod broke free after defender Monique Hanayik found her streaking down the left side of the pitch. MacLeod cut into the penalty box and fired of a shot that forced the opposing goalkeeper to make a save to her right.

Moments later, Columbus mounted another attack. Forward Lisa Nouanesengsy timed her a run brilliantly, beating the FC Pride offside trap. She let go of a shot from an acute angle that was saved but forced a rebound. Powers pounced on the opportunity but the keeper made a fabulous save to stop the chance.

Following the early opportunities for the Eagles, the weather slowly began to change and so did the fortunes of FC Pride. As rain began to fall in Indianapolis, Pride clawed back into the game. In the 22nd minute, a turnover at midfield allowed midfielder Sam Dewey to mount a counter attack and create a one-on-one opportunity. The attacker finished the chance, giving Pride a 1-0 first half lead.

As the rain increased, Columbus started to use the elements to its advantage. The Eagles responded from going down 1-0 with a goal rom a free kick just before intermission. Powers put her laces through the ball, uncorking a rocket towards the Pride goal. The goalkeeper spilled the rebound and Eagles captain Amber Kern hammered it home to tie the game at one just before halftime.

Columbus began the second half strong on both sides of the ball. In the 46th minute, goalkeeper Hannah Sargent stopped two point-blank opportunities from FC Pride. The Eagles countered by unleashing an offensive barrage on the Pride goal shortly thereafter.

Midfielder Kelly DeNiro blasted a shot off the crossbar, and MacLeod collected the rebound, unleashing another attempt but a Pride defender handled the ball in the penalty box. The center official awarded a penalty kick to the Eagles, with Powers converting easily from the spot in the 49th minute.

The elements continued to play a factor as both teams struggled to maintain possession in the midfield. The turf made for thrills and spills and left the game ripe for the taking. As the game wore on, systematic passing from FC Pride pulled Columbus out of its defensive shape.

The hosts were rewarded for their efforts in the 74th minute when a good sequence of possession created a quality opportunity for Dewey once again. Sargent stopped Dewey’s first attempt but couldn’t corral the rebound as the forward bested the goalkeeper and brought Pride even with the Eagles in the final 10 minutes.

Columbus weathered the storm and flurry of opportunities late in the match, but settled for a 2-2 draw with FC Pride. Sargent, Hanayik and center back Megan Minnix helped stave off a hungry Pride offense and come away with a valuable road point.

Hannah Sargent (again)

Building off a strong performance last week, Sargent tallied eight saves and kept her team in the game despite periods of heavy pressure. She utilized her stature to deny quality chances from FC Pride and played an instrumental part in claiming a valuable point for the Eagles.

Powerful strikes

Since joining the Eagles in late March, Micaela Powers is proving to be a stellar acquisition for the WPSL club. The former Wisconsin Badger sparked the comeback in Cleveland and had a similar performance on Sunday in Indianapolis. The cunning midfielder possessed enough situational awareness to fire a shot low and hard at the Pride goal, allowing Amber Kern to sneak in for the rebound.

Paired with Ashley Cogolin, these two holding midfielders did a wonderful job of ramping up the physicality and didn’t allow anything easy on Sunday evening.

What’s next

Columbus returns home to Otterbein University for a match against Empire United (Rochester, NY) on Saturday afternoon. The game kicks off at 4 p.m. ET and it’s designated as Save The Crew night.