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Eagles earn 1-1 draw against division leaders Motor City FC

The draw marks the first time Motor City haven’t won in 2019.

The Columbus Eagles came into Sunday’s Women’s Premier Soccer League match against Motor City FC looking to avoid a negative feat not achieve in two years: losing three games in a row. The last time Columbus tasted defeat in three consecutive outings was during the 2017 season with losses to Fire & Ice SC (St. Louis), Dayton Dutch Lions, and Toledo Villa.

Standing in the Eagles way were Motor City FC (Detroit). The visitors come into Sunday’s clash with an unblemished record, picking up wins in its previous five contests. The two teams previously met on June 1, with Motor City claiming a decisive 4-1 victory. That wouldn’t be the same storyline as Columbus came from a goal down and earned a gutsy 1-1 tie on Sunday afternoon.

Like a heavyweight boxing fight, both teams began the match feeling one another out. The Eagles had a good chance to score in the 11th minute, as forward Madison Costner attempted to get around a Detroit defender. She freed up just enough space to test goalkeeper Bethany Kopel, but pushed her shot wide of the near post.

Eagles goalkeeper Hannah Sargent collected five saves as Motor City peppered the Columbus goal with shots from all directions early on. The visitors finally broke through when a well played through ball in the 22nd minute found midfielder Yujie Zhao who converted the opportunity, beating Sargent to her right.

Columbus pushed hard for an equalizer after allowing the first goal. Forwards Madison Costner and Nikki Cox harassed the Detroit defense and were rewarded for their efforts in the 35th minute. A lofted ball from the Eagles midfield connected with Costner on the near side of the field. She was able to beat her defender, dribble into the 18-yard box and put the ball by the diving goalkeeper to tie the game. The teams went into the break tied and with everything to play for in the second half.

Eagles head coach Matt Ogden made a noticeable change during the intermission, opting for a backline of Adison Preston, Megan Minnix, Monique Hanayik and Micaela Powers. It offered a unique look to his traditional lineup. The defenders performed well, limiting opposing scoring chances throughout the second half.

Momentum favored the visitors in the dying moments of the game, but Sargent and the Eagles remained steadfast, absorbing pressure from all sides. Their performance proved instrumental in a gritty 1-1 draw. The result marks the first time Motor City hadn’t claimed a victory in 2019 and serves as a morale booster for Columbus heading into the latter portion of the season.

This was needed

Following last week’s devastating 5-1 loss at the hands of the Cleveland Ambassadors, it was imperative Columbus picked up a result in this game. Handing the current Valley Division leaders their first draw of the season might be just what the doctor ordered.

Sarge says no!

Hannah Sargent was superb for the Eagles in the goal but she didn’t do it alone. Megan Minnix was all over the pitch, breaking up scoring opportunities and cleaning up the ball in dangerous areas. She received considerable assistance from Kelly DeNiro, who registered numerous shot blocks on the evening and even came up limping after a few.

What’s next

Columbus continues its home stand against the Dayton Dutch Lions. The game takes place at Capital University on June 22, and kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.