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Columbus Eagles fill roster and find shape before league opener

See who joined the squad and how they’re preparing to line up for the 2021 WPSL Season

Dani Gunderson returns to the Eagles for the 2021 season
photo by Ralph Schudel - Massive Report

On Sunday, the Columbus Eagles return to outdoor competition for the first time since July of 2019. The Eagles have the return of CEO Mark Wise as interim head coach, new competition presented by a different conference aligning and an influx of new and returning talent. It’s finally time to welcome back Women’s Premier League Soccer to central Ohio.

Previously, Massive Report shared the return of Wise, while head coach Matt Ogden takes time off after a season coaching the Capital University women’s soccer program. In addition, Massive Report provided who would return to the team from its PASL indoor conference title and names from Eagles seasons past. Since that time, Columbus held a team tryout where new and former players earned a spot on the roster.

New Players

new players in italics

This year, Columbus will carry a 29-player roster. Due to the nature of the WPSL, and players not getting paid to play, all players aren’t available every fixture. There will be a core of consistent names from match to match, but away and home games have the potential to field different sides. Also, the league schedule has four weekends where the Eagles play both Saturday and Sunday. That isn’t conducive to fielding a consistent starting 11.

Now that the walls of indoor soccer fall away for a full-sized pitch, there will also be consistent positions for players. Indoor soccer is fast-paced and compact. The team finally gets to stretch out a field and put players in positions that match their strengths.

In goal, Hannah Sargent and Lauren Demarchi will be the two primary selections to start the year with no number one starter yet. Keck is a Hilliard-native who plays collegiately at UNC Charlotte, an NCAA Division I Conference USA school. The 18 year old has yet to feature for Charlotte but made an impact off the field, winning a team award for the most time spent in community service, something Columbus supporters would appreciate.

On the backline, Westerville graduate Nia Hassey and Martin Methodist College center back Kaitlyn Caminiti join a group of Eagle veterans. Monique Reventlow missed time in the winter for an injury, but when healthy featured in her defensive duties. Both Michaela Powers and Morgan Wilcoxon played sporadically in the PASL season.

A name to pay attention to at fullback is Marike Mousset, a former Canadian youth international, who played in the Under-20 World Cup in 2016 and featured at Ohio State. The Eagles are only awaiting completed paperwork before she can make an impact, which is standard procedure for international competitors. Mousset logged 5,225 minutes for the Scarlet and Grey. In those minutes, she also contributed on the offensive end with two goals and four assists.

The midfield starting group to watch is team captain Ashley Gogolin, Alivia Milesky and Alicia Donley. Gogolin and Milesky played at the beginning of 2021, securing the Great Lakes Conference title. Milesky contributed offensively in the midfield, on top of distributing to her teammates.

Donley is new to the team but comes in with NCAA Division I experience at Tennessee, where she scored four goals and registered one assist in six starts. The midfielder from Pickerington transferred to the University of Dayton to complete her college career.

There are three names to watch at the Eagles’ wings. Dani Gunderson is a staple forl Columbus with a lot of experience, playing with the Eagles since 2017. That year, against Cincinnati at historic Crew Stadium, Gunderson scored twice in a 4-2 victory. Deijah Swihart excelled at the University of Ashland and took that ability to the Eagles’ 2021 PASL indoor campaign. Both players provide excitement at the left wing and will have plenty of opportunities to split time.

The player to watch on the right wing is Abby Townsend, who played in the 2019 season for the Eagles and scored two goals. She’s the likely starter when available for selection.

Donavan Wahl and Madison Costner are returning at the striker position. Both played in the winter as well but Costner’s time goes back to 2019. She scored three times and was named to the WPSL All-Conference Team. Costner wasn’t the only 2021 Eagle receiving the accolade, with Gogolin, Milesky and Powers all teammates on the All-Conference squad.

Season Opener

There are a couple of things that make it difficult to prepare for Columbus’ first opponent, Lady Victory FC. The Indianapolis side is like all WPSL teams where rosters turn over a lot from year to year. Adding an extra unknown is that 2021 is the first year of the team’s existence.

Wise told Massive Report that Lady Victory plays a possession-focused style, 4-3-3 formation. On offense, the central midfield will bring an extra player into the attack, which is designed to pressure their opponents. Since Lady Victory may not have a roster of players with experience alongside one another, Columbus’ core can exploit a lack of chemistry. The team’s 2021 indoor season may go a long way in helping the Eagles WPSL campaign.

All WPSL matches are required to have either a live stream or game broadcast available postmatch. Teams broadcast their games on the MyCujooTV App. The Eagles kick off at 7 p.m. ET in Indianapolis on Sunday.