Searching for their first home win in 2019 the Columbus Eagles returned home to Otterbein University on Sunday evening for a clash with the Cleveland Ambassadors in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. It’s been three long weeks since the Eagles played in front of home supporters and the team looked eager to put on a show.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. The visitors used a strong end to the first half to return home with a 5-1 victory, making the drive up 71-North much more enjoyable and leaving the Eagles scratching their heads.
It took Columbus less than 10 minutes to fire the opening salvo of the match. Midfielder Micaela Powers scored off a restart, banging home her free kick opportunity to beat Cleveland to her left.
The Ambassadors scored to tie the game in the 22nd minute and claimed the lead just five minutes later. A mistimed jump from Eagles midfielder Kelly DeNiro enabled Cleveland forward Kati Druzina to sneak by for a one-on-one opportunity with goalkeeper Hannah Sargent. The forward placed the ball to Sargent’s right and gave her team the lead.
Cleveland extended its lead before halftime, benefitting from what appeared to be an own goal in the 37th minute. A foul on the far side of the field just outside of the penalty box set the Ambassadors up for a set-piece opportunity from a dangerous spot on the field. A low shot to Sargent’s right created a rebound that took an unfortunate deflection off Columbus captain Ashley Gogolin and into the net, giving Cleveland a comfortable two-goal advantage heading into the halftime break.
The visitors weren’t done scoring as forward Kayla Fischer collected two more goals for the visitors in a five- minute span early in the second half. Fischer scored a tap in goal in the 52nd minute off of a rebound but her best goal of the game came in the 57th minute.
Eagles defender Olivia Sensky attempted to chest down a high floating ball but her touch was too strong and went right to a Cleveland defender. The visiting player found Fischer and it was a foot race to the goal. She beat two Columbus defenders and Sargent to score a back-breaking fifth goal for the away side.
Fischer’s goal proved to be the last and carried Cleveland to the 5-1 victory in Columbus
In a pivotal clash against a tough opponent, it appeared Columbus was ready to answer the bell. However, unforced errors allowed Cleveland to score two goals and suck the air out of the game in the first half. Even with this result, the Eagles must bounce back quickly or risk getting beat by a similar margin against Valley Division leaders Motor City FC next weekend.
The Eagles demonstrated that the future of the franchise is in good hands. Newcomers such as Madison Costner, Abigail Townsend and Olivia Sensky all featured in this contest and look to play a major part in head coach Matt Ogden’s plans this season and going forward.
Columbus returns home next Sunday for the second game in its four-match home stand to take on Motor City FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET at Memorial Stadium.