With time running out in its preseason, the Columbus Eagles looked to collect a much-needed win before heading into Women’s Premier Soccer League competition on May 11. After going winless in the team’s first two games versus Division II opponent Ohio Dominican and Division I opponent Ohio University, the Eagles earned a 5-0 win against Division III side Otterbein on Sunday afternoon.
With severe weather lingering in Central Ohio, the game kicked off in Westerville with the wind howling around Memorial Stadium. The Cardinals began the game on the front foot, connecting passes up the field, but couldn’t challenge Columbus goalkeeper Andrea Vera.
The Eagles struck first in the 15th minute when Brooklyn Pritt finished a cross from Lisa Nouanesengsy in the right side of the penalty box to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. That was the only excitement fans would see for sometime, as moments later the officiating crew directed both teams to the locker room because of lightning in the area.
After a 27 minute weather delay, the teams returned to the pitch.
Eight minutes after play resumed, Columbus midfielder Ashley Gogolin scored when a corner kick deflected to the top of the penalty area. She took a touch and uncorked a shot, beating Otterbein goalkeeper Erin Gordon to her left to give her team a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles added another goal shortly before halftime, as Pritt collected her second, touching a cross from Nouanesengsy past the Cardinal goalkeeper. This goal gave Columbus a commanding 3-0 at the half.
Midfielder Kelly DeNiro joined the Eagles’ scoring party in the 63rd minute when she finished a cross from the left from Adison Preston that bounced off Nouanesengsy in the penalty box.
Following the goal by DeNiro, Otterbein changed to a 4-5-1 formation in an effort to limit Columbus’ passing through the midfield. The change worked, as the Eagles failed to find a goal from the run of play the rest of the half. Columbus added another goal just a minute before stoppage time began, as Ashley Gogolin headed a corner into the net on a late run from a DeNiro cross.
The hosts maintained the clean sheet, winning 5-0 and setting themselves up nicely for the start of the WPSL season.
What scoring drought?
Ashley Gogolin joked throughout the 2018 season that she was “cursed” as a goal scorer, touting she hadn’t scored a goal since her days playing club soccer. The midfielder joked throughout preseason the drought would continue but, as she proved Sunday night with her set piece goal, it looks like she won’t be struggling to score in 2019.
No help up top
The Eagles have yet to find a true No. 9 to serve as the team’s main goal scorer. Columbus received solid production from the wings and the holding midfield but failed to generate quality scoring opportunities from its forwards. This likely will change, as new head coach Matt Ogden finalizes his roster for the season.
You won’t see a home game for the Eagles until May 19, as the club heads to South Carolina for a match with Ashville City on April 25, before beginning WPSL play in Ann Arbor, Michigan against the Lumberjills on May 11.