The Columbus Eagles are set to take the field for the first time in over a year, as the team takes part in the Premier Arena Soccer League. This game may look different to fans of the beautiful game, but Massive Report has a list of a few differences between indoor and outdoor soccer rules.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eagles will play a different winter schedule, taking part in the PASL for the first time. This is due to normal collegiate exhibition opponents playing their collegiate season starting this spring.
This change also alters the Eagles coach as current team coach Matt Ogden also leads Capital University’s women’s soccer team, making him unavailable this winter. On the bench instead will be Mark Wise, the Eagles founder, CEO and the club’s first ever head coach. Ogden plans on returning to the side for the team’s summer outdoor season.
On Saturday, Columbus welcomes divisional opponents, the Cincinnati Sirens, who won the Great Lakes Division in 2019-20 with a record of 6-0-1 and 101 goals scored to nine conceded. This is astounding because the second most goals scored was 40 by the Chicago Mustangs.
So far in 2021, the Sirens are not off to as hot of a start, losing their first PASL match against Chicago 9-3.
Taking the field for the Eagles this weekend will be a mix of returning and new players, a split of five existing and six squad rookies.
Back in black and gold will be midfielder Alivia Milesky, defender Monique Reventlow, forwards Madison Costner and Amberly Knox and midfielder and team captain Ashley Gogolin. Offensively, Milesky, Costner and Gogolin accounted for nine goals in the WPSL last season, half of the team’s total of 18.
The Eagles didn’t have a 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so bringing back veteran players for the PASL season is crucial in getting the squad of mostly rookies on the same page. Arena rules allow five field players and one goalkeeper, allowing the Eagles to keep a strong number of veterans on the field at the same time. This will go a long way in integrating all the new faces.
One player that skews the line between veteran and rookie is forward Donavan Wahl. She played on the inaugural Eagles squad in 2014 before her collegiate career at Kent State University. The former First Team All-MAC selection will add to the goal-scoring attack after returning to the Eagles for the first time in seven years.
Another former NCAA Division I athlete will be in goal ing former Vanderbilt goalkeeper Lauren Demarchi. The Hudson, Ohio native started 19 starts of 21 games during her senior season. In 2,606 total collegiate minutes, Demarchi registered 80 saves and a 0.833 save percentage.
In front of Demarchi will be defender Maggie Bunker and midfielders Susan D’Isidoro, Mellonee Hall and Deijah Swihart. D’Isidoro continues playing in Columbus with a swap of black and gold from Ohio Dominican to the Eagles. In four seasons at the local Division II school, she had 11 goals and 12 assists in 75 games played. She ended her college career as a second-team All-GMAC selection.
Hall joins the Eagles after one season with the Dayton Dutch Lions. Prior to that, she was a four-year defender at Wilmington College. In her senior season, Hall was named second-team All-OAC selection, moving up a team from her 2017 third-team selection.
Swihart graduated from Ashland after a standout playing career. At the NCAA Division II school, Swihart was named the 2015 GLIAC Freshmen of the Year, was a first-team All-GLIAC perfer in 2016 and ended her time with the Ashland named second-team All-GLIAC. Swihart brings 34 goals and 8 assists to the Eagles.
Chemistry will be hard to come by after the lack of competition for the entire roster. Massive Report predicts that there will be a strong veteran group starting Saturday. Defense is a lot more of a team initiative in arena soccer too, with smaller dimensions and fewer players on the turf, so expect just one formally labeled defender on the field, likely to be Reventlow. Most of the team changes throughout the 60 minutes will be in the midfield.
That midfield has a strong balance of new and returning players. Expect at least two non-rookies in the midfield with one new name. Gogolin, Milesky and Swihart wouldn’t be a surprise. At practice, Swihart covers a lot of the field and gets in the way of shots and passes on defense in addition to her already established offensive skill. Up front should be Costner, bringing the starting squad up to four veterans and two new Eagles.
The good thing is, there are unlimited substitutions in PASL, so expect to see the entire 11 players on the field at some point. Saturday will be a great opportunity to set expectations for the remainder of the PASL season and future WPSL summer schedule.
Columbus’ game against Sirens can be streamed for free on their team website. They kick off Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. Supporters can also buy a virtual ticket to support the club, with raffles happening throughout the match for prizes from the Eagles and club sponsors.