Just a week removed from its thrilling three-goal comeback, the Columbus Eagles returned home to the campus of Otterbein University on Sunday evening for a league match against Motor City FC (Detroit). Capturing four points during its two weeks away from home, the Eagles were feeling good coming into Sunday’s match.
Standing in Columbus’ way was Motor City FC. The Detroit-based team looked to knock the Eagles off their perch atop of the Women’s Premier League Soccer Valley division. Playing just one game so far in the 2018 season, City came in relatively untested following an 8-0 shellacking of Empire United (Rochester, New York) just a week ago.
Columbus began the match in less than ideal fashion with Motor City controlling possession early on in the first half. In the 13th minute, Columbus midfielder Larissa Najjar mounted the best offensive opportunity for the Eagles of the first half, receiving a great through ball from Rachel MacLeod. Najjar’s first touch was diluted by the pressure from the Motor City defense and the attack came to pass.
Looking for the opening goal, Motor City began putting pressure on Columbus goalkeeper Hannah Sargent. A brilliant attack began taking shape in the 21st minute as City hit the ball wide down the left side of the pitch, hitting the runner in stride. The Eagles goalkeeper was forced into a quick decision. Stepping off her line, Sargent made a confident slide tackle to dispossess Motor City and turn the attack the other way.
Sargent kept up the tremendous work in the second half, stopping venomous strikes on goal. Sargent’s best work came in the 51st minute, when she stopped a dipping free-kick opportunity that took a bounce on the unpredictable turf.
Unfortunately for Sargent and the Eagles, luck ran out in the 72nd minute. Motor City midfielder Madison Alexander put the Columbus backline under duress, forcing miscommunication between Eagles defender Hadley Jones and Sargent. Both women failing to clear the ball out of the dangerous area, allowing Alexander to sneak in for the goal, slotting it between the legs of the defender and goalkeeper for the early advantage.
Looking to capture the magic of the previous week, Columbus head coach Daniel Seiffert made a mass substitution, bringing on six new players players in search of the equalizer. Columbus made a late push in the game and fought valiantly, but were unsuccessful as Motor City picks up the 1-0 victory.
With both of its starting goalkeepers leaving last season, many in the Eagles organization wondered who would step up to fill the vacancy left by Shannon Flower and Shauni Kerkhoff. Seventeen-year-old goalkeeper Jenna Villacres did a wonderful job early on in the preseason, but Western Michigan product Hannah Sargent proved on Sunday evening she is the starting goalkeeper for this team.
Yellow like what?
The Eagles set a season high for yellow cards with two on Sunday evening and that’s just fine with them. Assistant coach Alex Finy told his team that he would like to see them take more professional fouls, and they did just that.
With a quick pitstop at home in the rearview mirror, Columbus head back on the road next weekend to take on FC Pride (Indianapolis) on Sunday, June 10th, at 4 p.m. EST.