With a week off from competition to rest bodies and minds for the upcoming playoff push, the Columbus Eagles returned to action against Indy Saints FC on a steamy Saturday afternoon at Otterbein University. Temperatures approaching kickoff eclipsed 90 degrees and the heat was amplified once both teams set foot on the pitch at Memorial Stadium.
Columbus established its superiority early on in the match. Four minutes into the match, captain Amber Kern got the Eagles on the board first when she pounced on a rebound off a corner kick from Dani Gunderson. The ball spilled and landed right at the foot of the right back. Kern wasted no time and smashed the ball into the net to give Columbus a 1-0 advantage.
Two minutes later, midfielder Ashley Gogolin attempted to double the Eagles lead, taking a shot from just inside the right edge of the 18-yard-box. The midfielder’s shot was close, but went out for a Indy goal kick.
Looking to follow up on her tremendous performance against Empire United two weeks ago, Lisa Nouanesengsy had a brilliant chance in the 26th minute. The forward put a spin move on the Saints defense and uncorked a shot that required a masterful save from the opposing goalkeeper.
Just eight minutes later Columbus’ lone international player, Lila Remache, doubled the lead for the Eagles in the 34th minute. Just over five feet in height, the French footballer bicycle kicked an oncoming cross from the right-hand side of the pitch that beat the oncoming keeper to her left and doubled the Eagles advantage just before halftime.
After scoring her first competitive goal in six years in the last match, Gogolin began the second half looking for more. The midfielder streaked down the left side of the pitch to invite pressure from the Indy defense. Remaining calm in the face of adversity, Gogolin cut into the penalty box and forced the keeper into a tough decision. Unfortunately, the effort was all for nothing, as Columbus could only put the ball out for a goal kick.
Nouanesengsy was back on the prowl in the offensive zone later on in the second half. The forward got behind the Indy defense and sprinted down the left side of the pitch. With support from Kern coming to her right, the striker let go a shot that found the upper 90. With the goal, the Eagles took a 3-0.
With 10 minutes remaining in the match, midfielder Mary Seiffert, playing in her final game for the Eagles, looked to join the scoring festivities. Coming down the left side of the pitch, she let go of a shot from the top of the penalty area that rattled off the left corner of the net. Had Seiffert been able to finish, the goal would have added to a story-book ending for one of the longest tenured Eagles players.
Seiffert’s miss didn’t impact the final outcome, as the Eagles claimed a 3-0 victory over the Saints and furthered the team’s aspirations of finishing second in the WPSL Valley Division.
The Eagles captain came up big for her team on Saturday afternoon. Tallying the first goal for Columbus early on, Kern focused heavily on the defensive side of the ball to clinch a convincing victory against a conference opponent.
Despite being down Kelly DeNiro and Micaela Powers in this contest, the Columbus midfield was sublime on Saturday afternoon. Alison Harbart and Ashley Gogolin were excellent with their distribution and helped create quality attacking chances for Columbus.
Columbus head on the road to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for its season finale against Steel City FC. That game takes place on Sunday, July 8th, at 4 p.m. EST.